3,360 teens have lost a parent
Some 3,360 Irish 16-year-olds may have experienced the death of one of both parents, a new study has estimated.
The study carried out for the Irish Hospice Foundation also estimated that between 36,000 and 60,00 children in Ireland could have experienced significant bereavement.
It was released to coincide with the launch of the Irish Childhood Bereavement Network which will act as a hub for professionals and organisations working with bereaved children.
“The network is about ensuring that every bereaved child gets the most appropriate support for them, when they need it,” Dr Susan Delaney, bereavement services manager at the Irish Hospice Foundation said today.
The first point of support for a grieving child was in the family but a grieving parent “may not be emotionally available to their children and additional support may be needed,” she added.
The Irish Childhood Bereavement Network aims to reach 70 members in its first year and is being hosted by the Irish Hospice Foundation for its first two years.
Securing funding to support the network was the next stage, Irish Hospice Foundation chief executive Sharon Foley said.
The network would only work if one person was funded to coordinate it, Julie Stokes vice-chair of the Childhood Bereavement Network in the UK said.
A lack of emphasis in government policy on children’s bereavement support provision was noted in a study conducted by independent researcher Dr Kathy McLoughlin for the Irish Hospice Foundation which was funded by the Family Support Agency.
The report identified weaknesses in the system including fragmented services outside Dublin, longer waiting lists for more complex bereavement support, the lack of a comprehensive services directory or forum to exchange knowledge and ideas.
“This initiative is to ensure there is a coordinated approach to helping children who have been bereaved,” Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said at the launch.
“This is about making sure that help gets to those young people in as timely and effective way and bringing together all those invovlved in bereavement,” she said.