Head Start at Douglass Community Services to provide grief training to teachers, staff


HANNIBAL, Mo. — Sometimes when a young child is grieving, it’s difficult to know how to help.

That’s why Head Start at Douglass Community Services, which cares for children from birth to 5 years old, will be participating in grief sensitivity training. 

Faith Car, director of Head Start at Douglass Community Services, applied for the grant. She said helping children through grief is an important part of their work.

“Children need ongoing support when they are experiencing grief,” Car said. “We have had children lose parents, siblings or other close family members. Teachers who have training in how to support these children play a critical role in that support. This training will provide the tools and information teachers need to help both their students and the families we serve cope with these losses.” 

Car said grief isn’t limited to people who lost someone. For young children, it can mean divorce, the loss of favorite family pet and other things.  

“We have had a lot of trauma-sensitive training lately, and one of the things shown through research is children can be affected by things going on around them,” Car said. “I think we fail to understand this stuff does affect young children, even though they don’t express it right off the bat.”

Car said when children act out, it can be a sign something is wrong — but often they withdraw. 

Dr. Tashel Bordere with the University of Missouri will hold a training on Zoom on March 6 for Head Start teachers and staff. Car said Head Start is looking at an in-person follow-up training next year. 

The two-year grant, called the SHED (Surviving, Healing, Evolving through Death and Loss), was funded by the New York Life Foundation and the National Alliance for Grieving Children.

The program will help education professionals by providing tips, tools and resources for understanding, identifying and addressing children’s grief. All program participants will receive additional resources for addressing childhood grief, such as books for varying ages and information packets. Car said these tips and trainings can be passed along to help families.

“We don’t always know the right words to say or have the right story to read that would really help the child cope,” Car said. “If you know that is happening, then these stories could be in the classroom, because children aren’t always open to talking about it. Sometimes they need a book or a puppet or something to get them to express what they are feeling.”

Douglass Community Services offers early childhood education at 20 sites throughout Northeast Missouri. 

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