Credit hours:

Course Summary

For youth in care, placement in care often brings complicated feelings of shame, relief, or guilt. In order to effectively serve and provide for young people, we need to help them recognize their grief and meet them where they are in their grieving process. Gain knowledge and tools to help your child cope with feelings of grief and ambiguous loss through this course.

In this course, you can expect to learn:

  • About ambiguous loss and complicated grief
  • Unique challenges foster youth face through the grieving process
  • Understand how grief and trauma can manifest in a young person's behavior
  • Strategies a young person can use to cope with ambiguous loss and/or grief

Step 1

Watch the following video "Best Practices for Grief: Foster Care Placement," this video is a part of a series examining grief and loss experiences of children and teens, and was selected because of the valuable introduction it provides about young peoples' grief in foster care:

Step 2

The effects of grief that children in foster care experience vary by the developmental age of the child. Review the following article published by Fostering Perspectives, "The Effects of Grief and Loss on Children in Foster Care", to learn what grief signs to be aware of for all children.

Step 3

Review the following article "Ambiguous Loss Haunts Foster and Adopted Children", to learn about the inevitable loss a young person experiences during their foster care experience (sometimes over and over again) and how incredibly difficult this type of grief is to process.

Step 4

Gregory Manning discusses the difference between a traditional and non-traditional loss and how the profound loss and trauma a young person in foster care experiences manifests and impacts their behaviors in the following video "Grief and Loss for Youth in Foster Care & Adoption":

Step 5

Watch Matthew's video which reflects the trauma, grief, and loss he dealt with throughout his foster care experience. 

Step 6

Review "What Young People Can Do: Healing From Loss", a simple form to help guide and validate a young person healing from loss.

Step 7

Share the "Bill of Rights for Grieving Youth in Foster Care" tool with your child. These Rights reflect the values, dreams, and aspirations of current and former foster youth suffering from tremendous loss and can be helpful to a grieving young person and/or a young person who has not yet begun the grieving process.

Step 8

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

How can you help young people in your care suffering from grief and loss?

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Course Discussion's picture

sarahhmiller197... said:

I think we need to be open and compassionate and understanding that removal from a birth home (even one that is abusive or neglectful) is a massive trauma inflicted upon these children - and can also lead to increased depression, anxiety, and feelings of loss and grief and helplessness.
djhoffman3005's picture

djhoffman3005 said:

stay calm and understanding when they are acting out grief them find constructive ways to express that grief
BEnove's picture

BEnove said:

Help them to process the emotions that they are feeling and be there to listen and support them over time.
MsPorter's picture

MsPorter said:

Always be there when they need you to be without judgment and sometimes you don't need to say anything at all.
Amber's picture

Amber said:

Be understanding and allow children to grieve in their own way.
cory.vinson1's picture

cory.vinson1 said:

Helping the recognize the emotions they are feeling and help model healthy ways to cope with grief and loss. Understanding that their grief may always be there but being support when they need it.
vernazurc22's picture

vernazurc22 said:

Understanding their losses and anticipating every different way of grieving or mourning will help support a child.
jonathan_harrell's picture

jonathan_harrell said:

I think it is important to both give appropriate space and time for the child to grieve as well as support them in that grief. The wounds that come from trauma may take a long time to heal, and depending on the person and the trauma may never heal.
Logiudicece's picture

Logiudicece said:

I think one of the most important things to remember is that being placed in foster care or a new foster home is a big change and it will take time to adjust. It is important to recognize behaviors, that would otherwise be considered normal acting out, as signs of grief and to help the child work through them rather than see them as a bad person or punish them.
G.Brown's picture

G.Brown said:

Allowing them to grieve and letting them know you are there