Jeff’s Place offers bimonthly open-ended peer support groups for children ages 5-19 and their caregivers who are coping with the death of a meaningful relationship. All groups are facilitated by professionally trained volunteers and supervised by a master’s level clinician.
The clinician, a registered expressive art therapist and mental health counselor, develops curriculums for the group activities. The ratio of child to facilitator is small, based on the age and the needs of the participants.
Every evening begins with a pizza dinner provided by Jeff’s Place to be shared by the families and facilitators. Families often state that mealtime is a particularly difficult time after the death of a family member and this time provides an opportunity for families to join together in a supportive environment. After the meal, the families participate in an opening ritual and then move to their individual groups. Simultaneously, we offer a peer support group for adults to discuss their own experiences, as well as the challenges of parenting grieving children and teens.
The rooms are designed and furnished for each age group. The groups may be further divided by type of loss (i.e. sibling, suicide loss, child loss etc.). Children’s groups engage in art, music or play to express themselves. Our teen groups often choose to explore their grief through discussion, memory sharing, and/or music and art. Children/teens are encouraged to participate and share at their own pace.
At the conclusion of the individual group sessions, all of the families and facilitators gather for a closing ritual. When the families have left, the facilitators meet with the clinician to discuss the evening and share any insights or concerns. If necessary, the clinician will follow up with families and/or provide referrals.
There is no fee charged for participation in our support groups. Jeff’s Place is a child-centered, family focused, community-based bereavement program and welcomes all families regardless of race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.
The Kids Club is specifically designed to meet the needs of our younger children, typically ages 3-7. This groups runs bimonthy in the afternoon and uses art, play, and sand tray to explore and express the grieving child’s experience. As the children are meeting, the caregivers participate in their own group.
Jeff’s Place offers peer based support groups within the schools to the meet needs of our grieving children. We are currently partnered with two schools within the Metrowest community to run groups during the school day.
Support groups are open to children and teens, ages 3-19, and their adult caregivers who are coping with the death of a meaningful relationship. Currently, our program offers support groups for the death of a parent, sibling, and concurrent adults group for parents/guardians. On average, our families usually wait 3 months or more after a death to start our program. However, we have no set time line and families may join our program years after a death.
For more information, please contact our Program Director, Melissa Kennedy Panto, at firstname.lastname@example.org