Childhood Separation & Loss
CHS of NJ’s Childhood Separation and Loss counseling helps children, foster children or privately referred children work though issues of separation as a result of transitioning from one home to another, illness, death, violence or other loss. It helps children understand reasons for the separation and cope with it, improve behaviors and look to the future. This program aids children in Foster, Kinship and Birth homes. There are two goals that drive the program:
- Provide intensive, short-term, goal-directed counseling to school-age children in DCF foster care to resolve grief, separation and loss issues
- Keep the child’s placement stable.
Every child in the State foster care system has suffered losses. Losses can be devastating, such as loss of family members through death or separation, multiple foster placements, home and street violence and accidental deaths. If children are not helped early on, those losses become entrenched in the fiber of the child's personality and influence behavior throughout life.
That's why CHS of NJ's Childhood Separation and Loss Counseling is so important for DCF foster children. Caring social workers help children and their caretakers work through grief, separation and loss issues. Children who have been separated from their birth family and foster families can experience profound loss and need the help of a professional. True healing comes from finding that it is okay to talk about their loss, how it relates to past and present events, letting go of blaming themselves and repairing a damaged self-image. Only then can a child move ahead.
One young girl, age 5, suffering from nightmares, needed grief counseling after her foster sister accidentally drowned in the backyard pool. We used art therapy, and over a period of time, the little girl moved from drawings that showed her alone with a sad face, to drawings of herself with her friends, smiling under a rainbow. In therapy, she used clay to sculpt the monsters from her dreams that were then overcome by a big clay figure she made of herself. Her nightmares ended.
A brother, age 8, and sister, age 6, were placed with a foster family after witnessing their birth mother killing their baby sister. Shortly after this tragedy, the family was referred to this program because the children were experiencing problems with anger and nightmares. Using therapeutic board games, art and play therapy, the children's behaviors have improved remarkably and the nightmares have stopped. As they go through other developmental stages, they may need help working on their memories and new feelings.
Individual and family counseling is provided to children for dealing with separation and loss. Some need help adjusting to new foster home placements. We can work with birth families, when the goal is to reunify the child and parent. Services are provided primarily in the home, but can be in our office or other sites to meet the needs of the children and families. Evening appointments are arranged for families when necessary. Children are initially seen weekly, unless the family or referral source requests a different timetable. Private agency referrals or calls from the community for this service may be accepted. A fee for such counseling will be discussed.
For DCF referrals, the treatment is a short-term, 12-session, goal-oriented therapy. The family therapy includes parenting education, empowerment of caregivers and role modeling. Play and art therapy, therapeutic games, dolls, books and projects are used to aid in the therapeutic process. Children keep a memory book to organize pictures, thoughts, feelings and understanding of why they are separated from their loved ones.
This program provides in-home therapy, by Licensed therapists, to children and their foster parents before the adoption is finalized and after the adoption is finalized. This therapy helps the child with the emotional and behavioral issues that impact them when transitioning from birth home to foster care to adoption. The therapist also helps the foster parent(s) have a better understanding of the traumas experienced by the child and how to be the most effective, understanding, and nurturing parent for that child.
This program provides in-home therapy, by Licensed therapists, to children and their kinship guardians before the KLG is finalized and after KLG is finalized. This therapy helps the child with the emotional and behavioral issues that impact them when transitioning from birth home to a relative's home. The therapist also helps the kinship caregivers have a better understanding of the traumas experienced by the child and how to be the most effective, understanding, and nurturing parent for that child.
- Children are able to improve their behaviors and calm their fears, thereby stabilizing their placement;
- Children are able to constructively grieve their losses;
- Children understand why they are in foster care and work towards resolving their feelings of loss;
- Children understand that belonging to more than one family does not mean they did anything wrong;
- Birth parents, foster parents and extended families are helped to understand the child's reactions to loss and how to help the child more effectively, while also understanding their own grieving process.