Losing a parent in childhood is the kind of trauma that can change the trajectory of kids’ lives, putting them at risk of having symptoms of anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress and even poor educational outcomes.

Yet few schools have resources in place to help kids going through this.

The problem has come into sharp relief during the COVID-19 crisis, which left more than 200,000 kids newly bereft of a parent or primary grandparent caregiver, according to some estimates.

“That’s like two kids for every public school,” says Susan Hillis, co-chair for the Global Reference Group on Children Affected by COVID-19, and the author of several studies estimating the number of kids orphaned by the pandemic.

The educational, mental and physical health costs of not supporting these kids right now could be high, experts warn.

Schools could be the ideal place to help grieving kids, says Hillis, because teachers and counselors know who the children are who have lost a parent or caregiver. And schools are where kids spend most of their time.

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July 24, 2022