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

rhiannon's picture

rhiannon said:

I would give them there time for grief and / or loss and respect the feelings they have for what they are going through. I would be there for them and understanding.'s picture

Leeannmikes@yah... said:

Ambiguous loss is hard. Not understanding your foster child cause a separation in being able to love the child. The child may act out with difficult behaviors. The behaviors may become a dividing wall. This dividing wall needs to be broken down but in a way respectful of the child and the losses they have been through.
rosebud27's picture

rosebud27 said:

Listen and give them time to grieve.
Michelle_Mclellan's picture

Michelle_Mclellan said:

i tell my girls try to understand that not being without your family is a tremendous loss but unfortunately you have to go through this pain but the good part is if you do your part you will be reunited again unlike death
jsduke's picture

jsduke said:

I think the best way to help a child placed in your care is to be supportive and understanding of what they are going through, while teaching them ways to monitor their emotions and to find ways to cope with overwhelming emotions.
KimmersA8's picture

KimmersA8 said:

Be attentive and aware to the needs of the children in your care. Be sensitive to them and be available to help.
Ryguythesciguy's picture

Ryguythesciguy said:

Listen with a purpose. Observe with intent. Look for clues that the child might be hurting. Be there. Learn to find new ways to allow expressions of grief. I never really thought of fostering as a type of loss that would experience the stages of grief. But the more I have learned and see I understand the relationship.
apriljackson11's picture

apriljackson11 said:

I will have and hold lot of patience with the child so that I can listen to what the child have to say and then I will encourage the child so that the child can talk to me about his are her emotions and I can express their feelings in the right way because I am very patients with any child in life
MCSemones's picture

MCSemones said:

Give them space, time and understanding when they need it.
Mkeppley2's picture

Mkeppley2 said:

As a Foster Parent I try to be a good listener, to be patient and to let my foster child express his feelings.