Credit hours:
2.00

Course Summary

The necessary removal of children from their caregiver(s) to whom they are attached, can have both positive and negative aspects. From a child protection perspective, separation has several benefits, the most obvious being the immediate safety of the child. Separating a parent and child can also have profoundly negative effects. Even when it is necessary, research indicates that removing children from their homes interferes with their development. The more traumatic the separation, the more likely there will be significant negative developmental consequences. It is imperative that foster parents and other child welfare stakeholders be informed about how separation and loss impacts the children they care for and how to help minimize the impact.

In this course, you can expect to learn:

  • what separation and loss may look like for a child when losing their caregiver, siblings or other close relatives

  • challenges children may face when suffering from a traumatic separation, both in general and developmentally

  • how an adult supporter may be able to help a child experiencing separation and loss

  • strategies and tools available to assist and help a young person develop coping skills

Step 1

Review the following article,  "Children with Traumatic Separation: Information for Professionals," an issue developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, which provides information and guidance to young people who experience traumatic separation from a caregiver, siblings or other close relatives.

Step 2

Review the following article, "Effects of Separation and Loss on Children's Development," by Susan Hois, to gain insight on the psychological impact of losing parents due to divorce, incarceration, death and/or removal to foster care at various stages of development.

Step 3

Review the excerpt, "My Stuff," from FosterClub's Quick Start Guide, for teens entering foster care. Often, what is unknown is the scariest part of foster care. Providing young people with a method of control helps eliminate unknown factors and make them feel more comfortable in their current situation.

Step 4

Review the information provided in "Keeping Connected to Siblings," excerpted from FosterClub's Quick Start Guide, which outlines important things for a young person to consider when thinking about bio-family connections. Relationships with family can be tough for any teen. But when foster care is involved, things can get even more complicated; this effects the impact of the separation from loved ones. Helping a young person understand the details and their rights concerning visits or connections to loved ones may help ease the fear and anxiety that separation often creates. 

Step 5

Review the following worksheet developed by FosterClub to help children gain a better understanding of what separation from their family members looks like and ideas about how to keep in touch with important people, excerpted from FosterClub's Foster Cub Coloring Book. Having a conversation with the younger youth in your care may prove to be a little more complicated than a conversation with a teen.

Step 6

Review the following worksheet, "What will we do on a visit?" An excerpt from FosterClub's Foster Cub Coloring Book. Easing the uncertainty for children in your care when it comes to visits with biological family is important. Beyond initial greetings, family visits can become awkward for the child and visitor alike. Plan ahead with the child about things they can do at their visit, and help pack a bag with items that promote interactivity and connection.

Step 7

Review the worksheet below, "What will my family be doing in foster care?" Often the anxiety that evolves from separation is the lack of knowledge regarding what the rest of the young person's family will be doing in foster care. Help begin a conversation about what family members may be up to during the young person's absence from the home. This could also be used during visitation with family members. Excerpted from FosterClub's Foster Cub Coloring Book.

Step 8

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

How could you help minimize the impact of separation on a young person in your home when visits and/or communication with bio family is not an option?

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Course Discussion

MrRp's picture

MrRp said:

By providing a focus on the child's needs, specifically when they need it, helps to minimize the impact of separation. Giving them time to focus on grieving the loss can also help to assist in minimizing the impact that separation can have on them.
MrsP's picture

MrsP said:

The first thing that comes to mind for me, is to meet them wherever they are. What I mean by that is, don't try to force your entire world onto them. Let them continue to be comfortable with the things that bring them comfortable. Let them enjoy photos. Don't say or do anything that tries to minimize their connection or downplays the importance of their bio family. Do not put your feelings above the child's.
AlexaGutierrez's picture

AlexaGutierrez said:

I could open a comfortable space for the child to open about their feelings of loss or even abandonment. I can enforce my ability to show up for them, create a safe space, brave space, home space for them while they're with my open to staying. When they have waves of fatigue or anger validate them and allow them to move through them freeing. Do not ignore the situation, but do give them the openness to speak on these feelings when they're ready.
Mdigennaro's picture

Mdigennaro said:

Listen to the child's concern and offer honest answers to their questions as well as correct any misinformation or confusion.
Joe Nichols's picture

Joe Nichols said:

Letting the children know that you are available to talk about their family anytime and look at pictures.
tiamnichols's picture

tiamnichols said:

Looking at photos and talking about their bio family whenever the foster youth wants.
myrandacairns's picture

myrandacairns said:

If they are allowed to communicate then you could encourage phone calls or letters. If not, printing out pictures and creating a scrapbook about their life and family can help alleviate separation
DanielaPizarro's picture

DanielaPizarro said:

I think some ways of minimizing the impact of separation is to definitely having conversations about family members that are no longer there so they at least know of them, have pictures around the house, and write letters.
swashington12's picture

swashington12 said:

I FOUND WRITING LETTERS, TAKING PICTURES AND SENDING THEM TO FAMILY, FACE TIME ON THE PHONE WHEN PERMITTED, WHEN I HAD CHILD THAT WAS NOT PERMITTED, THEY HAD THEIR OWN PICTURES AND SOMETIMES THEY WOULD CRY AND TALK ABOUT HOW THEY MISSED THERE MOM, I WOULD COMFORT BY SITTING WITH THEM AND LET THEM TALK AS LONG AS THEY WANTED TOO, TO FEEL BETTER, ITS HEART BREAKING BUT YOU COMFORT IN ANY WAY YOU CAN.
mcmerolla's picture

mcmerolla said:

Having conversations about the family members they are missing, as well as encouraging them to write letters to their loved ones could help them deal with their grief and loneliness.