New York Life: Leading Grief Support Provider Judi's House Releases Groundbreaking National Bereavement Estimation Tool

Originally Published by New York Life.

Leading area grief care provider Judi’s House/JAG Institute unveiled the Childhood Bereavement Estimation Model (CBEM), a first-of-its-kind tool providing up-to-date state and national estimates for the prevalence of childhood bereavement in the U.S., developed with support from the New York Life Foundation.

This model completed as part of a two-year, $1 million grant from the Foundation uses the most recent, publicly available, national and state population data sources to deliver the most accurate approximations to date of the number of children who will experience bereavement by the time they reach adulthood. The model estimates that one in 15 children (6.8%) will experience the death of a parent or sibling by age 18 constituting over 4.8 million children nationally.

Drawing on state- and county-level data, the CBEM is also able to calculate the scope of the issue on a region-by-region basis for the first time enabling new analysis of areas with high bereavement levels, as well as alerting service providers to local needs. According to the CBEM:

  • West Virginia has the highest childhood bereavement rate, with an estimated 11.4% experiencing the death of a parent or sibling by age 18, followed by Mississippi (10.8%), Alabama (10.5%), New Mexico (10.1%) and Kentucky (9.9%)
  • Washington D.C. has the lowest childhood bereavement rate, with an estimated 4.9% experiencing the death of a parent or sibling by age 18, followed by Minnesota (5%), California (5%), New York (5.1%), and Hawaii (5.1%)

“Over the past decade, as the bereavement support field has grown, the need for standard, reliable metrics and tools used by practitioners and institutions alike has become particularly evident,” said Maria Collins, Vice President of the New York Life Foundation. “The CBEM offers a much-needed tool for quantifying and contextualizing grief as a public health issue in our communities which we hope will serve to bring greater awareness and support to the bereaved children and families who need it most.”

“Our hope is that the CBEM will assist local grief professionals with service planning and distribution by highlighting the number of youth in need of grief resources and services in a given geographical region,” said Brook Griese, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Judi’s House and JAG Institute. “When communities are more fully aware of the magnitude of this issue, they can take steps to better prepare to allocate resources to appropriately address the needs of the grieving children in their midst.”

The CBEM uses a theoretical approach grounded in population estimation techniques to produce comprehensive estimates of children bereaved by parent and/or sibling loss, taking into account a range of statistics including population counts, death rates, number of children in a household, and age of parents at first birth. CBEM estimates are available for youth up to age 18 and 25, and will be updated annually as new data are released.

Judi’s House developed the CBEM as part of a multi-year New York Life Foundation grant to support the advancement of the bereavement field by developing new resources designed for broad dissemination and use among service providers and other grief support stakeholders. The CBEM was introduced recently at the annual conference of the National Alliance for Grieving Children, the field’s nationwide network of grief professionals, institutions, and volunteers. A CBEM Toolkit is available at and includes reports on prevalence rates and related data for the U.S. and each of the 50 states, along with customizable and interactive resources for building awareness and mobilizing action in support of grieving children and families.

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