Grief and Loss Experienced by School-Aged Children in Foster Care: Creating a Collaborative Approach Between Home and School to Help Children Cope. An Attachment-Based Approach

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Havelock, Jill
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In British Columbia, as of March 2023, 4875 children were living in foster care (Child Protection Services-Four Key Stage, n.d.). Children in foster care experience repeated grief and loss that often goes unrecognized (Mitchell, 2018). Samuels (2009) suggested that foster care is an institutionally caused ambiguous loss that can have a major impact on the wellbeing of the child, if the loss remains unacknowledged. This grief and loss often show up behaviourally, physically, emotionally, and cognitively (Look, 2023) and is misinterpreted as problematic behaviour without acknowledging the root cause (Leitch, 2022). Despite the number of children in foster care, little research has been done to understand and effectively help this population with coping with grief and loss associated with being in care (Leitch, 2022; Look, 2023). In this capstone, I attempt to foster an understanding about grief and loss associated with being in foster care and create a basic framework of care for these children. Although the main focus is on individual level strategies or therapies, I also make suggestions for the bigger system (MCFD) and the school system. Using an attachment-based lens, the hope is to create a trauma-informed, collaborative approach, across all stakeholders to help foster the best possible outcomes for children in foster care.
ambiguous loss , attachment theory , disenfranchised grief , foster care