Course Summary

For youth in care, placement in care often brings complicated feelings of shame, relief, or guilt. In order to effectively serve and provide for young people, we need to help them recognize their grief and meet them where they are in their grieving process. Gain knowledge and tools to help your child cope with feelings of grief and ambiguous loss through this course.

In this course, you can expect to learn:

  • About ambiguous loss and complicated grief
  • Unique challenges foster youth face through the grieving process
  • Understand how grief and trauma can manifest in a young person's behavior
  • Strategies a young person 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 the valuable introduction it provides about young peoples' grief in foster care:

Step 2

The effects of grief that children in foster care experience vary by the developmental age of the child. 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.

Step 3

Review the following article "Ambiguous Loss Haunts Foster and Adopted Children", to learn about the inevitable loss a young person experiences during their foster care experience (sometimes over and over again) 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 young person in foster care experiences 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?

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Course Discussion

Eddie Vinson's picture

Eddie Vinson said:

This helped me understand that my now 4 year old that has been with us since birth along with his sister since 4 years old can still be affected by loss. I never would have thought! It has been suggested to make some sort of picture story book to tell a story of his and his sisters life so they can have an understanding of what they have and still have for family. Thanks for this training.
Janelle Musser's picture

Janelle Musser said:

This reminded me not to focus on the behavior but to focus on the grief and all of their emotions they are experiencing. I think allowing them a safe place to talk and share their emotions is very critical. It is also important to remember that it is a process and even when the child is doing well for awhile something can trigger all those emotions all over again.
andidoll's picture

andidoll said:

Realizing, acknowledging and accepting that the child is grieving a loss is so important.
jtucker's picture

jtucker said:

by acknowledging that it exists and allowing the youth to feel what they feel
guzman's picture

guzman said:

by being there and ready to listen
Tiniakiap's picture

Tiniakiap said:

I have a better outlook,, of trying to incorporate, some of my foster kids traditions etc,
bstephens12's picture

bstephens12 said:

I think it is important to recognize as a foster parent that the children in my care will eventually leave our home. I need to be involved in their case plan, facilitate ties to their family of origin, and remain a part of their future to minimize additional loss as much as possible.
CarolynJohnson1's picture

CarolynJohnson1 said:

I think its necessary to sit down and speak with the child one on one to understand what the grief is about. We have to find common ground to understand the child's emotions, etc. We could possibly bring any siblings around him/her to ease their discomfort about being in a different environment. Visitations are non-negotiable.
Robinp@rackercenters.org's picture

Robinp@rackerce... said:

I am adopting my niece who is been in my care since six weeks old. The family dynamics have become tense and I think the best way to remedy this is by reaching out to local resources available to adopt a families
Ankromfamily1's picture

Ankromfamily1 said:

These articles and videos helped me realize I should bring up their birth mother sometimes, even when they haven't. Just because they haven't mentioned her doesn't mean that they're not thinking about her. Our adoption day is coming up and we'll work to let them know they can be sad as well as happy.