Children’s Hospital to Provide Youth Trauma and Grief Support

NEW ORLEANS  – From Children’s Hospital:

The Trauma and Grief Center at Children’s Hospital New Orleans was recently awarded a $100,000 Grief Reach grant from the New York Life Foundation to support culturally appropriate trauma and grief-informed care to youth within the TAG Center and the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center. The partnership will allow the TAG Center to provide a new way to support at-risk youth in the JJIC, with a particular focus on grief within the context of violent death.

Many youth in the juvenile justice system are unable to address the underlying grief that causes their delinquent behaviors because they have nowhere to turn. Many of them – particularly youth of color – have reported higher rates of traumatic bereavement, with more than 75% experiencing two or more violent deaths of loved ones before the age of 5. Despite this prevalence, the lack of identifying the role of grief in juvenile delinquency is what often leads to ineffective mental health support.

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Through this funding, the TAG Center will explicitly address the intersection of racial trauma and violent loss among youth of color that are seen at the TAG Center. And, for the first time, this collaboration will help the TAG Center advance its work with the JJIC to provide an evidence-based intervention, Trauma and Grief Component Therapy (TGCT) which was co-developed by Dr. Julie Kaplow, to the many detained youth who have experienced traumatic deaths.

“For many youth, access to mental health care is a significant barrier in New Orleans. Almost no juvenile justice centers across the country offer interventions that directly address grief, despite the very high rates of bereavement among youth in those settings,” said Dr. Kaplow, executive director of the TAG Center at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. “We are grateful to accept this generous grant from the New York Life Foundation to support our partnership with the JJIC and to create a meaningful impact for youth in our juvenile justice system, the vast majority of whom have experienced multiple traumas and losses due to gun violence over the course of their young lives.”

The TAG Center at Children’s Hospital, in collaboration with the JJIC and the New York Life Foundation, have taken the first steps to ensure that youth in the juvenile justice system have the resources and support they need to address trauma and grief and to develop positive coping strategies to abstain from potential violent behaviors and help them live more positive and productive lives in their communities. 

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“Our continued partnership with the TAG Center focuses on providing need supports for a population that has been historically marginalized and underserved,” said Maria Collins, vice president at the New York Life Foundation. “We are honored to be part of an initiative that will promote understanding and resiliency among unseen youth in the juvenile justice system.”  

“We have had a long-standing partnership with Children’s Hospital New Orleans to provide medical and psychiatric care to detained youth,” said Kyshun Webster, executive director at the JJIC. “Additionally, we look forward to working with the TAG Center to provide evidence-based interventions to address the pressing trauma and grief-related needs our juvenile population in New Orleans often struggle with.”

The TAG Center’s primary intervention is TGCT, an evidence-based, assessment-driven treatment for youth whose histories of trauma and traumatic loss place them at high risk for severe and persisting distress, functional impairment and developmental disruption. Originally designed for use in group settings, TGCT is unique in that it directly addresses trauma, grief and its interplay. TGCT has been implemented among diverse populations in schools, mental health settings and juvenile justice sites across the U.S., and has proven effective in reducing PTSD, depression, maladaptive grief, and violent behavior, while enhancing positive youth development and behaviors. 

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Over the course of this initiative, the grant funding will help TAG Center clinicians provide TGCT to an additional 96 youth within the TAG Center and 240 youth within the JJIC. In addition to measuring symptom reduction, youth will be provided with a brief survey to assess their satisfaction with the treatment, which treatment elements were most helpful, and which aspects they would change in the future. 

The philanthropic support from the New York Life Foundation, which invests in programs that benefit young people, particularly in educational enhancement, childhood bereavement and social justice and equity support, has been instrumental in bringing this initiative to fruition to help many bereaved juvenile youth in New Orleans.

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