Childhood Bereavement: A Critical Issue
An estimated 5.6 million children in the U.S. will experience the death of a parent or sibling by age 18.
Childhood grief has profound impacts on youth, families, and communities. In partnership with the New York Life Foundation, we developed the Childhood Bereavement Estimation Model (CBEM) to understand the magnitude of the issue. The CBEM approximates rates of U.S. children and youth who will experience the death of a parent or sibling by the time they reach adulthood.
This information helps communities evaluate the impacts of unaddressed grief, campaign for grief resources, and ultimately, contribute to improved outcomes for grieving families everywhere.
Join us in elevating childhood bereavement to a critical public priority. You can keep kids on track to health and healing by utilizing our CBEM resources to educate your community and increase awareness.
Childhood Bereavement in the United States
2022 CBEM State results vary greatly across the nation. West Virginia has the highest concentration of bereaved children with 12.4% experiencing the loss of a parent or sibling by age 18. California has the lowest concentration with 5.9%. National, state, and county-level findings help advocates better understand and support the unique needs of bereaved children in their communities.
How many children and youth will be bereaved in YOUR state? Hover over the map for a snapshot of CBEM rankings and rates. Click on a state to view and download the full report.
Childhood Bereavement: Race & Ethnicity
Analyses reveal significant differences in prevalence based on race and ethnicity.
Each year, our team highlights a Key Topic that provides important context to our understanding of childhood bereavement using the CBEM. Our 2021 analyses based on race and ethnicity illuminate disproportionate incidences of childhood bereavement and underscore the need for critical and timely grief supports for children.
Derived using CDC data for the years 2015 – 2019, these results complement annual CBEM reports. Results are presented for each racial (American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, Black or African American, White) and ethnic category (Hispanic or Latino) using specific mortality and birth data from CDC Wonder.
Other key topics include childhood bereavement related to population density, county, and substance abuse.
Childhood Bereavement: The Cost of Inaction
Research shows that bereaved children are at an increased risk of disrupted development. Unaddressed childhood grief and trauma can lead to short- and long-term difficulties including decreased academic performance, mental health issues, and early mortality.
Timely support introduced at critical junctions aids in healthy development. Each day, bereaved youth turn to peers and adults for assistance in managing complex grief reactions. Data from the CBEM reinforces the need for access to grief-focused education and programming that helps communities respond compassionately and confidently.
Judi’s House/JAG Institute partnered with the New York Life Foundation to help support grieving children and families by creating the Childhood Bereavement Estimation Model.