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

drvperkins's picture

drvperkins said:

We are helpful when we are present and available to listen and support. They need us to be a source of stability and compassion as they navigate such difficult pain and transition.
Sunnysar's picture

Sunnysar said:

Our children need us to let them feel their feelings- even if they are overwhelming to the caregiver. We should not condone harmful behaviors, but we should never condemn the child for the intense grief that often leads to dangerous or scary behaviors. Processing grief takes time and comes in waves, but in order to move forward in life, we don't want our kids to stuff their feelings away and mask their pain.
swashington12's picture

swashington12 said:

helping children with grief and loss all you can do is be patient , caring and talk about the situation there feeling when there ready to talk
Burtonfam2's picture

Burtonfam2 said:

We need to be aware that loss and grief are normal experiences of children in foster care. We can not stop those feelings but can help them walk through the grieving process.
Burtonfam's picture

Burtonfam said:

I can help young people suffering from grief and loss by encouraging them to talk about their loss.
chris.simpson08's picture

chris.simpson08 said:

I can help by being supportive to them and being there for them mentally and emotionally and helping guide them through the 5 stages of grief.
Deetripp's picture

Deetripp said:

This is a topic that is skipped so often. Thankyou for putting it out there! I will do my part to listen and be educated before any sort of action or communication for my kiddos or others.
fabiennem's picture

fabiennem said:

For Step 5, the video does NOT work
George Jackson's picture

George Jackson said:

Also the video in step 5 does not work
George Jackson's picture

George Jackson said:

So basically a child in the foster care system can constantly experience grief of loss throughout their lifetime. A child lashes out because something has taken place