Childhood Bereavement Care Pyramid

ICBN PYRAMID Ireland’s first Childhood Bereavement Care Pyramid was launched in 2014 by Dr. James Reilly, then Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.

In the absence of a national approach to childhood bereavement care in Ireland, the pyramid is a guide  for professionals and concerned adults in identifying and responding to the needs of children and young people who have experienced a loss.

An expert group in the area of childhood bereavement was convened to review the adult and child bereavement literature and pertinent policies (international and local), in order to establish existing models of bereavement care and core dimensions of best practice.  From this review and building on practice experience, a framework was created and piloted with medical, social work and educational professionals and parents.

The Pyramid recognises the essential role of family and community in supporting bereaved children and young people. It shows that most bereaved children and young people can be met from within their family and community; some may require additional support; and a few children will require more specialist help.

Who is it for?

As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. The Pyramid maps out the different responses that a bereaved child might need from their ‘village’. Anyone connected with or concerned for a bereaved child can use the Pyramid as a reference. The Pyramid helps any individual (family and professionals) to identify their own responsibility and importantly, to be aware of others who can provide more support if this is required.

  1. Level one: aimed at family and adults in the child’s natural network.
  2. Level two: aimed at bereavement support organisations in local areas including schools, faith-based and community services.
  3. Level three: advises those in professional counselling settings.
  4. Level four: addresses mental health professions.

How to use the Pyramid

The arc surrounding the Pyramid demonstrates that care of children and young people must be approached in a family context (consider the strengths, pressures and functioning of family life). The arc also pays attention to the passage of time, and the child’s ongoing development. The meaning and implications of loss can be ever-present and worked through at each new milestone in the child’s life e.g. first day at secondary school, first date, first job.

The purple segment identifies the needs of bereaved children and young people from basic to advanced. The base of the pyramid is relevant to most bereaved children. As the levels ascend, the needs become increasingly more complex – as do the required responses and competences. The green segment identifies the appropriate support or service required to respond to these needs. The pink segment identifies the type of competence responders should possess.

This pyramid is supported by a document which includes more detail on each of the components of the pyramid.

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