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

ssrieske's picture

ssrieske said:

acknowledge, verbalize acceptance of feelings
Roslyno's picture

Roslyno said:

let them no that they are not alone, tell them that i know that i am not your parents , but no matter what ,i will be here for you for as long as you need me to . and be understanding .
emilyklinefelter's picture

emilyklinefelter said:

How can you help young people in your care suffering from grief and loss? by giving it a voice, i loved that, big take away.
dstaggs's picture

dstaggs said:

How can you help young people in your care suffering from grief and loss? One of the greatest ways to help suffering foster kids from grief and loss is to personally understand the issues they are going through. Understand that the feelings they are feeling are real and true. Sadness and the feeling of loss is just as real as if it were death. These kids are going through an emotional time of separation from everything they knew. Now they are often faced with rules and guidelines on top of new people in their lives who are seemingly there to replace their parents. The emotions and feelings they are dealing with is something new to them and they have no idea how to deal with the things they are feeling inside. This is were we come in. It is up to us to be the solid rock in their lives and give them the coping skills they need in order to get through this time in their life.'s picture said:

I can help young people in my care who are suffering from grief and loss through by using open and reciprocal communication and focusing on validating their feelings. It is important to continue to provide a safe and caring environment which includes encouraging them to express their thoughts and listening without judgement.
kimberley504's picture

kimberley504 said:

The Loss Box and the Bill Of Rights are very good to use.
derekcbart's picture

derekcbart said:

The Bill Of Rights is very good to use. The Loss Box is also very good. Our children's therapist created this with them.
LGKille's picture

LGKille said:

solid review; and the handout for adolescent grief and the bill of rights added to our FP manual
deniselong's picture

deniselong said:

Making the bill of rights regarding grief and loss available, especially to older youth, and discussing it freely can help youth recognize that their feelings are appropriate and acceptable.
kidsmoke's picture

kidsmoke said:

You can help by giving them space and time to feel whatever they need to feel, and treating their behavioral outbursts related to those feelings with compassion.