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

LindsayMeyer's picture

LindsayMeyer said:

I can validate feelings and be there to listen and support them as they go through the stages of grief.
Lisamarie Guidry's picture

Lisamarie Guidry said:

Be supportive and understanding and give them all the time that they need to grieve>
ktrickel's picture

ktrickel said:

I can help young people with their grief and loss by being there for them, showing them that it is okay to grieve, by being someone they can talk to about how they're feeling, helping them stay in touch with those who mean the most to them, getting them help if they need it, and just genuinely showing them that they are cared for and safe.
michelle aranda's picture

michelle aranda said:

Understand mental illness and addiction is not the person. Understanding and holding space for the person to heal from grief and loss.
Sparsons's picture

Sparsons said:

Always be willing to listen
Sparsons's picture

Sparsons said:

Always be willing to listen
PattiH's picture

PattiH said:

Always be willing to listen without judgement.
Cheferin84's picture

Cheferin84 said:

I always tell my foster child to let his big feelings out and that I am always here to listen and help him through his feelings.
tdregely's picture

tdregely said:

It is important for those suffering from grief and loss to feel those feelings. Ignoring them will not help the child in the least. They need to know that it is OK to feel sad and that there is also no timeline or "correct" way to grieve.
Marsham's picture

Marsham said:

Give them time to think and process. Give them a safe space to talk and express themselves. If you as tbe parent need help with teaching this, ask for it.