Innovative Pilot Program to Support Children Suffering Loss of Caregiver Launches in Utah

Children’s Collaborative for Healing and Support announces additional $1 million investment from the New York Life Foundation to kickstart Utah initiative

SALT LAKE CITY, May 31, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — A first-of-its-kind initiative built on community partnerships to identify and support children coping with the death of a loved one, has launched in Salt Lake City. The Children’s Collaborative for Healing and Support, in partnership with the New York Life Foundation, works with local partners to identify and connect children who are grieving the death of a parent or caregiver to resources to help them cope and continue to live healthy, fulfilled lives.

Utah Governor Spencer Cox joined local and national partners on Thursday to announce the initiative and show his support for the impact it will have on Utah children and families.

Utah is uniquely positioned to launch this program that helps Utah kids who are suffering unbelievable loss,” said Utah Governor Spencer Cox. “In Utah, we care about one another and step up to help where we can. We are also committed to making data-informed decisions for the best possible outcomes. With the Utah Children’s Collaborative, we use our strengths to come together and help the kids who need it the most.”

The Utah Children’s Collaborative launches with two approaches for data collection to identify bereaved children and connect them to support services. First, the program is working with Gardner Policy Institute to match birth records with death records of those who have children under 18 years-old. The Children’s Collaborative is also working with Granite School District to begin to understand which children in their schools are suffering the hardships associated with the death of a parent or caregiver.

The Children’s Collaborative for Healing and Support initially focused on the 340,000 children nationwide who have lost a parent or caregiver to COVID-19 as part of the long-established COVID Collaborative. It is now expanding to support all grieving children, no matter the cause of death.

John Bridgeland is the co-founder and CEO of the COVID Collaborative, spearheading the Children’s Collaborative. Bridgeland says Utah is ideal for launching the pilot program because of already existing support services and a collective belief in gathering and using data for sound decision-making.

“While the country has moved on from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an urgent need to help those children who have lost a parent or other caregiver to COVID-19 or other causes. Supporting these children, who are a group with the least capacity to understand and cope with such staggering loss, in the years ahead is a moral imperative. The Children’s Collaborative seeks to build sustainable, scalable systems to help these children cope with their loss and navigate toward a successful future,” said Bridgeland.

Financial and community support are coming together to launch the Children’s Collaborative in Utah. Today, the New York Life Foundation announced a $1 million grant to the Children’s Collaborative, bringing their total investment for both the COVID and children’s collaboratives to $2.25 million.

“The New York Life Foundation has invested more than $70 million to support bereaved children in the last 12 years. We are always looking to partner with organizations with innovative programs that respond to the needs of children grieving the death of a caregiver. The Children’s Collaborative use of data and community partnerships is a formula that we believe will yield positive results in the lives of grieving children. We thank the State of Utah for leading the way and are proud to be a lead partner of this initiative,” said Heather Nesle, president of the New York Life Foundation.

The Granite School District is taking Children’s Collaborative action to help grieving students in their district. For the first time, when families submit back-to-school paperwork this year, they will have the option to respond to a question on whether the student recently experienced the death of a caregiver or sibling. Knowing which kids are dealing with a caregiver’s death is the first step in connecting them to resources.

“We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate on enhanced services and supports for this vulnerable population of students,” said Dr. Nye. 

Granite School District teachers and administrators will also participate in the New York Life’s Grief-Sensitive Schools Initiative® to be better equipped to help bereaved kids and families. The New York Life Foundation reports that 92 percent of educators nationwide say they would benefit from bereavement training to better support students, yet only 15% of educators stated they received any specific training on the subject of childhood bereavement. Dr. Nye says he’s looking forward to empowering Granite School District educators with this valuable training.

“The Utah launch is the first step in our mission to expand the Children’s Collaborative for Healing and Support across the nation,” said Catherine Jaynes, CEO of the Children’s Collaborative for Healing and Support. “Our efforts here will help thousands of Utah children and those who care for them, including family members, teachers, and their larger support systems and will inform how we bring such efforts to other communities and states.”

More on the Children’s Collaborative can be found on the website

About the Children’s Collaborative for Healing and Support

The Children’s Collaborative is an initiative that started in 2022 to honor the stories of children that have lost a caregiver to COVID-19 and provide resources to help them and their families as they rebuild and look to the future. Today, the collaborative works to support all families that have experienced the loss of a parent or caregiver. We’re bringing together community organizations, grief groups, government resources, and more to surround these families with a comprehensive network of support. By strengthening the system to support these children and families, we will be helping all children and families who have experienced loss. The Children’s Collaborative for Healing and Support is Chaired by John Bridgeland, Co-Founder & CEO of the COVID Collaborative, and led by CEO Catherine Jaynes

Media contact:
Jennifer Harris
[email protected]

SOURCE Children’s Collaborative for Healing and Support

Children's Collaborative for Healing and Support is online at

Originally published at
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