Credit hours:

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

the5baileys's picture

the5baileys said:

Letting them express their feelings freely without taking it personal. Listening intently without trying to "fix it".
glines's picture

glines said:

Each child comes into our home with different experiences, but they all have been traumatized because of the separation from family. Listening to them, loving them unconditionally, and getting them the help they need gives everyone in the family the opportunity to have a good experience.
slines's picture

slines said:

Always remember to be compassionate and don't judge a child by their behavior. Instead, try to figure out what their behavior is trying to tell you and help them cope with that need.
trombonehampton's picture

trombonehampton said:

It's ok to have feelings......what ever they are......we just need to make sure they feel heard and their feelings are real.
coultersmom's picture

coultersmom said:

I can help my foster child by acknowledging their feelings without judgment. They are neither right or wrong.....they can own their feelings and their loss.
leahn91's picture

leahn91 said:

comfort the child and always be a listening ear
tcsdaniels's picture

tcsdaniels said:

We've helped a few in care through our long term fostering. One child stands out that we had helped through the loss of her mother and 2 other half siblings, a year later to help her with the loss of her only full sister and then the process to become adopted. It wasn't any easy process, but what we did was stood by her, listened, let her vent, she was angry and outraged many times, but she was put first in her feeling and emotions. She has since done well now that she has been adopted.
cbcole's picture

cbcole said:

Comfort them when they are feeling upset, and recognize that the behavior they display is often an attempt to deal with the pain they are experiencing emotionally.
colecars's picture

colecars said:

Always being willing to listen and give space for them to have their feelings without taking it personally.
Faith2017's picture

Faith2017 said:

Helping through the different stages of loss. Loving them regardless of how they act and letting know that I am there to help them as much I can. Also, talking about strategies to deal with loss. Sharing my experiences.