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Community Partner

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Judi’s House began a unique partnership with Adams 12 Five Star Schools in 2013 with a pilot program providing Comprehensive Grief Care to middle school children and district-wide staff in need. The program has grown over the years and is a model for other districts throughout Metro Denver

Judi’s House: How does Adams 12 Five Star Schools partner with Judi’s House?

Adams 12 Five Star Schools has a long standing partnership with Judi’s House.  Over the years, Judi’s House staff have provided direct support to thousands of students on understanding the impact of grief, how to support yourself after a loss and how to support others in grief.  Additionally, Judi’s House has provided targeted middle school group support for students who need a safe and relationship rich place to process their loss.

The Five Star District has also leaned on Judi’s House during times of significant loss across the district. Knowing our staff can always pick up the phone and be received with open arms of support gives our teams the assurance that during times of notable struggle others will step forward to support us.

Why is grief support so critical in schools?

It is always surprising to people when we share that 1 in 13 students experience the loss of a parent or a sibling by the age of 18. This means that our district serves approximately 2,500 students who are experiencing grief at any given time.  By having support from Judi’s House, we not only know that students are receiving the direct counseling support that they need but it allows us as educators to focus on providing the supportive conditions necessary for classroom learning.

What behavioral changes do you see amongst children who have lost a special person that warrant grief support?

Although everyone grieves differently, we know a child who loses a loved one can experience notable changes in their academic, behavioral, social, emotional and physical functioning. These changes can present in a variety of ways such as a decline in academic performance, disruption to biological functioning such as eating or sleeping, withdrawal from relationships, a loss of interest in things they previously cared about, a shift in mood or reporting an increase in somatic symptoms.  

Have you seen a need for grief support services change/increase over the years?

Yes, we have had an increase in requests for additional grief support for students over the years. We believe this may be the result of a combination of factors such as awareness and willingness to receive support, the observed benefit and feedback shared by those who have accessed grief support, and the combination of factors that resulted in an increase of loss among the student population we serve.   

Why has Adams 12 invested in grief support services?

In Adams 12 Five Star Schools we want to know our students by name, strength and need.  We are committed to supporting the whole child, because we know that when students have the consistent experience of feeling safe and cared for at school their brains are more able to learn and perform cognitive tasks.  For students who have experienced grief we need to strengthen our support and provide extra opportunities for students to feel safe and cared for and that is why we invest in grief support services.

What impact do you see on the children who participate in grief support services?

The partnership that Judi’s house has offered to the Five Star District has been invaluable. From offering universal workshops, to parent information sessions to targeted support groups, Judi’s House has created a resource that allows our school community to build their knowledge and develop the skills, in turn helping our students to thrive. 

One of our middle school students shared the following story after participating in one of the grief counseling groups which we think sums up the impact of Judi’s House’s programing.

“One thing that helped me the most in middle school was participating in the Judi’s House grief support program at my school. This is a place where a group of kids who are the same age can share and talk about their experience losing a loved one. A group leader from Judi’s House came once a week to meet with a small group of students. Each week we would share our experiences, hardships we’ve faced on our grief journey, and did a new activity and learned a new coping skill. By sharing our stories we were able to get to know each other better, connect in a new way and help us know we weren’t alone. My counselor at school was available after the sessions to help with hard days and when class discussions activated my grief.” 

What is your hope for the future of Judi’s House?

Five Star Schools has a strong desire and advocacy to continue to grow our partnership with Judi’s House. Judi’s House served as a resource that has helped to foster a supportive and empathic environment, and we hope that they will continue to offer their beneficial services.  

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