Our mission is to create safe, supportive communities so that no child, teen, or family has to grieve alone. We believe that every child, teen, and family grieving a death deserves a safe, supportive, and understanding environment.Our vision is to help create a world where understanding and patience allow loss to be integrated into our lives and lead to greater compassion, hope, and growth. We seek to broaden our impact by expanding our support services and educational outreach and deepening our community collaborations. We aspire to be a leader in the field of grief support and a catalyst in transforming society's understanding of grief. The Children's Room culture and all its services reflect the following fundamental beliefs: Grief is a natural and healthy response to death.Everyone experiences grief in a unique way.The experience of grief does not end, but changes over time.Within each of us there is a natural capacity to adapt to a world changed by death.Being with others who have experienced a death reduces isolation and can provide hope.Grief is transformative and can lead to personal growth not previously imagined.
DIRECT GRIEF SUPPORT Services include: Peer support groups (free of charge): Families come together bi-weekly for peer support groups at our Arlington center. Children and teens meet with others their age who have also lost a parent or sibling, and their parents or caregivers meet at the same time in adult support groups. TCR also offers peer support groups in area schools and community organizations (including Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston), enabling us to reach children who would not otherwise be able to access grief support services.Parenting While Grieving Series (free of charge): This eight-week, interactive series is offered twice a year to bereaved parents/caregivers. Participants explore the impact of death and loss on children, their developmental understanding of the grief process, strategies for dealing with the challenges of parenting while grieving, and for some, parenting while navigating their own grief.Monthly Family Night (free of charge): Our monthly arts-based family nights are an opportunity for grieving families to join together, centered around a creative arts activity and to make connection with other families in the community.Teen Program (free of charge): Through a combination of group-based activities, social outings, and workshops, teens who have experienced the death of a parent or sibling have the opportunity to connect with each other in a safe, comfortable environment.Adult consultations: Professional staff are available to meet with parents and other supporting adults to discuss a family's unique needs during the grieving process or in the case of a life-limiting illness.Information & Referrals: TCR provides information and referrals to families and professionals looking for additional grief-related services in their area. COMMUNITY OUTREACH & COLLABORATION In order to serve as many grieving children, teens, and families as possible, TCR is committed to creating and deepening collaborations with other organizations throughout the Greater Boston area to provide grief support and education. TCR provides public education on issues relating to death and grief, helping people better understand grief, and how to best support grievers. We also train and supervise graduate and undergraduate students each year through our Internship Program. EDUCATION & TRAINING OF PROFESSIONALS TCR’s professional staff regularly offers grief education services and trainings that are proactive as well as responsive to crisis situations in schools and communities. We offer presentations to schools, youth centers, and other community-based organizations to provide education on how to support children, teens, and adults around the issues of grief and loss. This serves to help people better understand grief and how they can support themselves and others while grieving. Educating others in our grief support model, and sharing practical strategies enables professionals to respond effectively to individual children and families in their own schools, practices, and communities when tragedy strikes.
The Children's Room follows three major
principles when making decisions about organizational capacity: invest in
talent; use resources wisely; and collaborate with complementary organizations
to leverage our ability to reach grieving children and families. Based upon the
results of an ongoing strategic planning initiative, TCR decided to add key
personnel in the last few years. TCR receives no state or federal funding and
must therefore invest strongly in our philanthropic capacity. In 2011, TCR
hired a Philanthropy Director for the first time, enhancing our ability to
solidify our financial base and to increase both philanthropic giving and
diversity of fundraising at a crucial time in our development. The Philanthropy
Director continued TCR's growth with the Benevon model of fundraising, added a
full time Philanthropy Assistant, and has carried out a supremely effective philanthropy
program, more than doubling our philanthropic income in the last 5 years. Our
focus on individual major gifts has driven much of this growth. In 2013, TCR hired a Clinical Director for the first time to oversee all programmatic functions and to increase our professional training programs, allowing our impact to grow exponentially and well beyond our geographical center. Educating others in the grief support model we've developed and sharing practical strategies enables professionals to respond effectively to individual children and families in their own schools, practices, and communities when tragedy strikes. The addition of a Clinical Director has also allowed us to expand and enrich our internship program for graduate and undergraduate students. Our internship program allows us to impact the future of the field of bereavement by training the next generation of professionals working in social work, psychology, expressive arts, and child life. Also, it has helped us increase our capacity to serve grieving children and teens in our center and a growing number of off-site locations. In 2014 we created a three-year (2015 – 2017) Strategic Plan to guide our organization. We have a Strategic Implementation Task Force comprised of board and staff members whose charter is to communicate and oversee the implementation of our Strategic Plan. This task force meets on a quarterly basis. As the end of this time approaches, we are in the process of creating a new committee to create our next three-year plan which will take us through 2020. In order to leverage our ability to reach as many grieving families as possible, TCR has made concerted efforts to partner with organizations throughout the metro Boston area to offer trainings, consultation, and collaborative programming. Our latest partnership is with Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, working with Club staff to provide peer support groups for grieving children in a growing number of Clubs across the city. In October 2016, we were able to begin our newest partnership with the Yawkey Boys & Girls Club in Roxbury and the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute in Dorchester. Made possible by a Be There grant from the New York Life Foundation, the partnership is part of a comprehensive approach to helping the Club community cope with loss, death, grief, and bereavement while also helping assisting Club members to build resiliency skills.
The Children's Room implements a continuous
performance improvement strategy utilizing both quantitative and qualitative
data. Regular process evaluation occurs on a monthly basis through data
reporting and analysis using a client database system to track programmatic
efforts and to monitor quantitatively the success and growth of our multiple
programs. Key indicators are: # of individual children, adults, and families
served; # of community peer support groups held; # of Information and Referral
calls answered; and # of hours spent on services; amount others. Further, numerous instruments are used to measure satisfaction levels of all individuals participating in TCR programs, including peer support groups, parenting education workshops, professional trainings, and teen events. In order to understand the impact of peer support group participation on children and parents in family groups, TCR implements both pre- and post-participation surveys of children and adults. The qualitative data resulting from these instruments allow TCR to hear directly from participants about aspects of the program that are effective and ideas for improvement. By implementing evaluation instruments with both adults and children, TCR is able to understand some of the impact that participation has on grieving families. As an example, one teen surveyed said, "Through the support sessions, I grew from my dad's death and learned that it was okay to be upset sometimes because I can survive grief." Another teen expressed, "The Children's Room focuses on grief, losing someone you love, a person who is so dear it's hard to bear. Everyone there has lost someone they loved. Seeing that can really make a person open their hearts to these people and they are no longer strangers in a room. They are the voices helping you get by, a reason to believe that things will get better. I guess what TCR has really portrayed to my heart is that there is hope, and that happiness will seep in even if it takes time." Grief, feelings of isolation, and the consequences of experiencing the death of a parent or sibling are difficult to measure quantitatively. By implementing surveys and interviews with all participants, TCR is able to use self-report measures to identify key aspects of program impact on both individuals and families.
TCR has gone from serving 7 families in our
first year to serving over 100 families in peer support groups at our Arlington
center each year. Our major accomplishments include creating additional
services families can access in order to find the right fit for their needs and
schedules; such as Parenting While Grieving educational series, monthly
arts-based family nights, individual consultations, teen-specific programming,
and comprehensive referrals. Beyond our center, we have created free peer support groups for children and teens at various schools and community centers in the greater Boston area. Since our first school-based peer support group in 2011, TCR has created a total of 9 groups for children and teens at off-site locations, including 2 Boys & Girls Clubs in Chelsea and Boston. These groups have served almost 100 youth who are not able to access our Arlington groups. We have also deepened our collaboration with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, conducting professional trainings for Club staff and beginning preparations to develop peer support groups in additional Clubs this coming year. A significant addition to our services is our professional training program that provides professionals in various social services, education, and healthcare settings with the tools they need to support grieving children and families and create crisis plans for their communities. We also train and supervise graduate and undergraduate students each year through our internship training program, educating the next generation of professionals entering the fields of mental health counseling, expressive therapies, and social work. TCR also continues to seeks ways to enhance and expand our programming specifically for teens. Grieving teens can be a particularly challenging group to reach with support, but they are also at greater risk of turning to substances and other unhealthy behaviors to cope with their grieving. In fiscal year 2015, we hired a Youth and Community Outreach Coordinator to assist with the development and implementation of our growing teen programming. Thanks to this new staff position and our growing intern program, we are now able to offer events specifically for grieving teens on a monthly basis throughout the program year. These social outings and arts-based workshops are each organized with a therapeutic theme, and these events are designed to meet a wide range of teens’ natural interests, skills, comfort levels, and communication styles. One area where we are looking to expand is Thought Leadership. We have successfully developed a number of valuable initiatives for a Thought Leadership program including a one-day Opioid impact workshop; a college/grad-level curriculum on grief; a manual on Parenting While Grieving; and a presentation at a national NAGC (National Alliance for Grieving Children) webinar. We envision creating a Thought Leadership Institute where we would act as a training resource in the field of grief support.