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

apriljackson11's picture

apriljackson11 said:

I will have and hold lot of patience with the child so that I can listen to what the child have to say and then I will encourage the child so that the child can talk to me about his are her emotions and I can express their feelings in the right way because I am very patients with any child in life
MCSemones's picture

MCSemones said:

Give them space, time and understanding when they need it.
Mkeppley2's picture

Mkeppley2 said:

As a Foster Parent I try to be a good listener, to be patient and to let my foster child express his feelings.'s picture

pamratvasky@gma... said:

Be patient and supportive
Brandi Riker's picture

Brandi Riker said:

As a foster parent and a foster care worker, it is important to have patience and understand these children can go from one extreme to the next very quickly.
MicahMcreid's picture

MicahMcreid said:

Understanding the idea of "ambiguous loss" is critically important when dealing with foster children. Acknowledging loss and grief by use of a "loss box" or another method of ceremonial recognition seems like a helpful tool to work through the complex feeling a foster child might have.
beanhead41's picture

beanhead41 said:

I loved the loss box idea. We have teens who will be going through PC and we're open to adopting them. I want them to be able to process those feelings of loss while also reaffirming their place with our family.
Danica248's picture

Danica248 said:

I think the best way to help a child placed in your care that is experiencing grief and loss is to be supportive, and understanding first and that's with every developmental age range. We also should be reflective as adults; it's safe to say that we've all experienced some sort of loss or grief. We must reflect on what or how we dealt with the situation
Robin2ce's picture

Robin2ce said:

Be compassionate, kind, mindful and aware of their unique grieving process.
Letty1998's picture

Letty1998 said:

listen, listen and be there to let them know grief is normal and ok.