Credit hours:

Course Summary

The necessary removal of children from their caregiver(s) to whom they are attached, can have both positive and negative aspects. From a child protection perspective, separation has several benefits, the most obvious being the immediate safety of the child. Separating a parent and child can also have profoundly negative effects. Even when it is necessary, research indicates that removing children from their homes interferes with their development. The more traumatic the separation, the more likely there will be significant negative developmental consequences. It is imperative that foster parents and other child welfare stakeholders be informed about how separation and loss impacts the children they care for and how to help minimize the impact.

In this course, you can expect to learn:

  • what separation and loss may look like for a child when losing their caregiver, siblings or other close relatives

  • challenges children may face when suffering from a traumatic separation, both in general and developmentally

  • how an adult supporter may be able to help a child experiencing separation and loss

  • strategies and tools available to assist and help a young person develop coping skills

Step 1

Review the following article,  "Children with Traumatic Separation: Information for Professionals," an issue developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, which provides information and guidance to young people who experience traumatic separation from a caregiver, siblings or other close relatives.

Step 2

Review the following article, "Effects of Separation and Loss on Children's Development," by Susan Hois, to gain insight on the psychological impact of losing parents due to divorce, incarceration, death and/or removal to foster care at various stages of development.

Step 3

Review the excerpt, "My Stuff," from FosterClub's Quick Start Guide, for teens entering foster care. Often, what is unknown is the scariest part of foster care. Providing young people with a method of control helps eliminate unknown factors and make them feel more comfortable in their current situation.

Step 4

Review the information provided in "Keeping Connected to Siblings," excerpted from FosterClub's Quick Start Guide, which outlines important things for a young person to consider when thinking about bio-family connections. Relationships with family can be tough for any teen. But when foster care is involved, things can get even more complicated; this effects the impact of the separation from loved ones. Helping a young person understand the details and their rights concerning visits or connections to loved ones may help ease the fear and anxiety that separation often creates. 

Step 5

Review the following worksheet developed by FosterClub to help children gain a better understanding of what separation from their family members looks like and ideas about how to keep in touch with important people, excerpted from FosterClub's Foster Cub Coloring Book. Having a conversation with the younger youth in your care may prove to be a little more complicated than a conversation with a teen.

Step 6

Review the following worksheet, "What will we do on a visit?" An excerpt from FosterClub's Foster Cub Coloring Book. Easing the uncertainty for children in your care when it comes to visits with biological family is important. Beyond initial greetings, family visits can become awkward for the child and visitor alike. Plan ahead with the child about things they can do at their visit, and help pack a bag with items that promote interactivity and connection.

Step 7

Review the worksheet below, "What will my family be doing in foster care?" Often the anxiety that evolves from separation is the lack of knowledge regarding what the rest of the young person's family will be doing in foster care. Help begin a conversation about what family members may be up to during the young person's absence from the home. This could also be used during visitation with family members. Excerpted from FosterClub's Foster Cub Coloring Book.

Step 8

Join the discussion in the comments below to answer the following question:

How could you help minimize the impact of separation on a young person in your home when visits and/or communication with bio family is not an option?

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Course Discussion

Staylor027's picture

Staylor027 said:

Sometimes just the ability to talk about family or make cards, color pictures or buy gifts for holidays they may or may not even get to family is what gets the child through the day !!
rdsimpson7112's picture

rdsimpson7112 said:

In addition to providing a safe and supportive home for the the child and keeping communication open, it is important to allow them to find a sense of control when possible. Children may not be able to control big things like being in foster care and where they live, but they can have input on things such as what clothing they like to wear, extra-curricular activities they participate in, options for rewards when they display positive behavior, etc. When so many things are out of their control, it is good for the child to have some things that they can control. In some cases, you, as a foster parent, may need to provide options that you are okay with beforehand, and then let the child make the final decision. I think it is easy to overlook how important it can be for a child to feel like they have the power to choose in the middle of all the chaos, even when it comes to the smallest of things.
Truth and Love's picture

Truth and Love said:

It is heartbreaking for any child to be separated from their parents. But safety for that child should always come first someone willing to give the time and effort to help raising that child is a blessing. If done out of love truth trust should be done right.
Truth and Love's picture

Truth and Love said:

It is heartbreaking for any child to be separated from their parents. But safety for that child should always come first someone willing to give the time and effort to help raising that child is a blessing. If done out of love truth trust should be done right.
ih8it4ya's picture

ih8it4ya said:

Make sure to spend dedicated time with the child talking about how they are feeling about their family, their current foster family, their school, their friends. The goal is to be better able to gauge changes in perceptions and attitudes toward the events that brought them to this point.
EllenArwen's picture

EllenArwen said:

Keep the lines of communication open, talk about what they are feeling and look for way to help them feel more comfortable.
JeanneneSavage's picture

JeanneneSavage said:

Communicate openly and be supportive
Nanapad5's picture

Nanapad5 said:

Encourage the child to talk above whatever is bothering them so we can discuss it and fine a solution to the problem.
Boxer34's picture

Boxer34 said:

keeping communication open is key, with everyone involved foster kids need to be involved in an age appropriate way
gwayns's picture

gwayns said:

Assisting the child in keeping a written and pictorial journal of their activities and emotions