Credit hours:

Course Summary

Placement in care often brings complicated feelings of shame, relief, or guilt for children and youth. In order to effectively serve and provide for their needs, we need to help children and youth recognize their grief and meet them where they are in their grieving process. Through this module, you will gain knowledge and tools to help children and youth cope with feelings of grief and ambiguous loss.

In this course, you can expect to learn:

  • Information about ambiguous loss and complicated grief
  • Unique challenges children and youth in care may face through the grieving process
  • The ways grief and trauma can manifest in a child or youth's behaviors
  • Strategies children and youth 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 its valuable introduction to the grief children and youth may experience due to being part of the foster care system. 

Step 2

The effects of grief that children and youth in foster care experience vary based on their developmental age. 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 and youth.

Step 3

Review the following article "Ambiguous Loss Haunts Foster and Adopted Children" to learn about the inevitable loss a child or youth experiences during their foster care (sometimes repeatedly) 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 child or young person in foster care may experience 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?

Step 9

Finished the module? If you are logged in as a subscribed user, take the quiz to earn your Continuing Education Credit hours and certificate! 

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Course Discussion

pennbrjo's picture

pennbrjo said:

It is important to allow a child and family time to grieve, express their feelings on their time.
ShaaleenAP's picture

ShaaleenAP said:

Let them feel, and be there for them
BMORSE's picture

BMORSE said:

I think it is important for children to start to verbalize emotion, even if they cannot immediately attach a reason to that emotion. If they can recognize the emotion then you can start to create a plan to help with it. Especially emotions brought on by the ambiguous loss.
rhiannon's picture

rhiannon said:

I would give them there time for grief and / or loss and respect the feelings they have for what they are going through. I would be there for them and understanding.'s picture

Leeannmikes@yah... said:

Ambiguous loss is hard. Not understanding your foster child cause a separation in being able to love the child. The child may act out with difficult behaviors. The behaviors may become a dividing wall. This dividing wall needs to be broken down but in a way respectful of the child and the losses they have been through.
rosebud27's picture

rosebud27 said:

Listen and give them time to grieve.
Michelle_Mclellan's picture

Michelle_Mclellan said:

i tell my girls try to understand that not being without your family is a tremendous loss but unfortunately you have to go through this pain but the good part is if you do your part you will be reunited again unlike death
jsduke's picture

jsduke said:

I think the best way to help a child placed in your care is to be supportive and understanding of what they are going through, while teaching them ways to monitor their emotions and to find ways to cope with overwhelming emotions.
KimmersA8's picture

KimmersA8 said:

Be attentive and aware to the needs of the children in your care. Be sensitive to them and be available to help.
Ryguythesciguy's picture

Ryguythesciguy said:

Listen with a purpose. Observe with intent. Look for clues that the child might be hurting. Be there. Learn to find new ways to allow expressions of grief. I never really thought of fostering as a type of loss that would experience the stages of grief. But the more I have learned and see I understand the relationship.