Children and youth often experience grief and loss when entering—and throughout the duration of their time involved with—the foster care system. It can be experienced because of illness or death of a loved one, long periods of separation from families, or disruption in school and social life. For many, the COVID-19 pandemic amplified these experiences and left children and youth needing emotional support. Resources in this section provide information on how grief, separation, and loss impact youth in foster care, and how adults can support the mental health of children and youth of all ages as they learn to cope with these changes.
Addressing Grief and Loss in Family Support Efforts
Shares tools and strategies to help professionals understand the basics of grief and loss and incorporate support services into their work with families.
Childhood Grief: When to Seek Additional Help
American Academy of Pediatrics (2021)
Discusses the symptoms a child might experience when processing grief and ways to help them at any age.
Communicating With Children About Death, and Helping Children Cope With Grief (PDF - 224 KB)
The MHPSS Collaborative for Children and Family in Adversity (2020)
Offers an overview of how different aged children experience grief, how best to talk to them about it, and what strategies can help them cope.
Helping Children Deal With Grief
Child Mind Institute
Provides an overview of what kids know about death and loss, how to talk to them about it, and how parents can help their children cope.
Helping Children & Teens Cope With Grief & Loss
Whole Child Counseling (2020)
Offers a list of resources that can be used by families to help their children cope with grief and loss.
Helping Kids Grieve
Sesame Street in Communities
Offers resources including videos, articles, and activities that can be used for families while they overcome the challenges of losing a loved one.
Impact of Separation on Children and Youth
Guides parents, caregivers, and professionals through resources to understand the challenges children may face following a traumatic separation. This resource also provides strategies and tools to assist children and youth in developing coping skills.
Listening & Led by Youth in the Foster Care System: Grief, Hope, and Transitions (LYGHT) Resources
Provides a collection of resources to support youth in foster care and those caring for them while they process feelings of loss while being in out-of-home care.
Processing Grief as a Foster Child
Seraaj Family Homes, Inc. (2020)
Describes the five identified stages of grief a person experiences during a time of loss or tragedy and what adverse effects they might have on a foster child’s overall service plan.
Trauma Caused by Separation of Children From Parents: A Tool to Help Lawyers (PDF - 457 KB)
American Bar Association (2019)
Presents a summary of extensive research about the consequential outcomes when a child is separated from their parent(s) and the long-term effects of the trauma that results from removal.
What Grief Looks Like for Children & Youth in Foster Care (PDF - 785 KB)
Foster Care & Adoption Resource Center (2016)
Discusses the complex feelings of grief and loss that a child who is placed in out-of-home care might experience.