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's picture

pamratvasky@gma... said:

Be patient and supportive
Brandi Riker's picture

Brandi Riker said:

As a foster parent and a foster care worker, it is important to have patience and understand these children can go from one extreme to the next very quickly.
MicahMcreid's picture

MicahMcreid said:

Understanding the idea of "ambiguous loss" is critically important when dealing with foster children. Acknowledging loss and grief by use of a "loss box" or another method of ceremonial recognition seems like a helpful tool to work through the complex feeling a foster child might have.
beanhead41's picture

beanhead41 said:

I loved the loss box idea. We have teens who will be going through PC and we're open to adopting them. I want them to be able to process those feelings of loss while also reaffirming their place with our family.
Danica248's picture

Danica248 said:

I think the best way to help a child placed in your care that is experiencing grief and loss is to be supportive, and understanding first and that's with every developmental age range. We also should be reflective as adults; it's safe to say that we've all experienced some sort of loss or grief. We must reflect on what or how we dealt with the situation
Robin2ce's picture

Robin2ce said:

Be compassionate, kind, mindful and aware of their unique grieving process.
Letty1998's picture

Letty1998 said:

listen, listen and be there to let them know grief is normal and ok.
drvperkins's picture

drvperkins said:

We are helpful when we are present and available to listen and support. They need us to be a source of stability and compassion as they navigate such difficult pain and transition.
Sunnysar's picture

Sunnysar said:

Our children need us to let them feel their feelings- even if they are overwhelming to the caregiver. We should not condone harmful behaviors, but we should never condemn the child for the intense grief that often leads to dangerous or scary behaviors. Processing grief takes time and comes in waves, but in order to move forward in life, we don't want our kids to stuff their feelings away and mask their pain.
swashington12's picture

swashington12 said:

helping children with grief and loss all you can do is be patient , caring and talk about the situation there feeling when there ready to talk