2024 Northwest Conference on Childhood Grief

In response to a call from local providers of children’s grief support, Safe Crossings Foundation presented the 10th Annual Northwest Conference on Childhood Grief. As the leader in funding grief support services for children in the Pacific Northwest, Safe Crossings Foundation hosted a conference that provides continuing professional development credits while building community, sharing ideas and learning together.

This year’s one-day conference was designed to support providers such as clinicians, therapists and counselors, therapists-in-training, teachers, school staff, and healthcare workers. 7.5 continuing education credits were offered for professional development needs. 

When: Monday, February 5, 2024 from 7:45AM – 5:30PM

Where: Seattle Children’s Sand Point Learning Center 
Address: 5801 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105

Registration Fees:
•Conference Admission: $180.00.

Reduced rate scholarships are available upon request:
Many conferences offer scholarship opportunities to assist individuals with financial constraints, ensuring a diverse and inclusive participation by providing discounted or waived registration fees to qualified applicants. These scholarships aim to promote access to valuable learning experiences and networking opportunities. Safe Crossings Foundation strives to make professional development and continuing education credits accessible to all who provide grief support for children, teens and young adults in our region. The price of conference admission includes conference sessions, continuing education credits, and meals. For those attendees who are unable to afford the full price of the conference, reduced rate scholarships are available. For additional scholarship information, please email info@safecrossingsfoundation.org with Conference Scholarship Request in the subject line. 

ADA:  If you would like to request accommodation needs, please contact Zoe Ottemiller, Communications and Development Coordinator, at zoe@safecrossingsfoundation.org.

Conference Speakers and Topics

Keynote Speaker: Alice Ryan, LICSW

Clinical Manager of the Journey Program, Seattle Children’s Bereavement Program and Lecturer, University of Washington School of Social Work.

The Impact of Grief on a Child’s Developing Brain

Taken from recent research on the neuroscience of grief, this presentation will examine the impacts of grief on a child’s developing brain over time. We will also learn how mental health providers can leverage this knowledge to promote healthy brain wiring in children to aid in adaptive grieving. This presentation aims to empower mental health providers with insights and practical strategies to foster help long-term mental and emotional well-being in grieving children.


Efficacy of Grief Support Groups in Schools & Resources for Facilitating Grief Groups in K-12 School Settings

In this presentation participants will learn about the efficacy of group-based grief support in schools as evidenced by researched backed outcomes. Additionally, participants will learn how to appropriately recruit students, assess appropriateness for the group, and obtain consent for participation. Presenters will share skills, tips, and considerations for facilitating groups. Finally, participants will be provided resources for how to facilitate a grief group in K-12 schools.

Countless Little Deaths: Grieving Addiction as a Terminal Illness


The American Medical Association declared alcoholism a disease in 1956, a definition that expanded to “addiction” in 1987. To professionals working in the substance use field, the concept of addiction as a terminal illness is borne out in vivid reality. However, societal stigmas toward chemical dependency exacerbated by the illusion of control complicate & stymie the grieving process of those close to an addict. Affected Others—children who grow up with addiction in the home—frequently lack the means to make sense of their experience, particularly the repeated losses of stability, safety, health & life within their families. This presentation seeks to provide information on the complex impact of addiction on the family system & how it presents multiple points of loss, expanding awareness & equipping helping professionals to better identify those in need of this unique grief support.

Staying Connected: Sibling’s Perspectives on Grief Support, Family Dynamics, and Ongoing Connection after a Child’s Death


This presentation will highlight the results of a qualitative research study in which grieving parents and children discussed their experiences before, at, and after the death of their child/sibling. The presenters will share perspectives on child siblings’ emotional experiences, perceptions of formal and informal support, changes in family dynamics, and strategies to remain connected to the child who died. The presentation will include recommendations for supporting grieving children and families.

Unlocking Resilience: Building Connections and Healing with Lego Play


In the wake of a significant loss, children confront a myriad of complex emotions. This innovative workshop delves into the potential of LEGO-based play as a therapeutic intervention for grieving children from elementary through high school. This hands-on workshop will provide professionals with a comprehensive understanding of how the tactile and structured nature of LEGO can act as a non-verbal medium, facilitating emotional processing and collective healing. Participants will be equipped with strategies to foster collaborative environments where children can share their grief narratives, ensuring mutual support and validation. Special emphasis will be laid on tailoring approaches to cater to neurodivergent children, ensuring inclusivity and understanding. Through interactive demonstrations and group activities, attendees will gain insights into the transformative power of LEGO-based play, preparing them to integrate these methodologies in support of grieving children.

Understanding Grief After Suicide: Supporting Youth and Children


This workshop is for behavioral health professionals that support children and adolescents who are bereaved by suicide including what useful support for a suicide loss survivor looks like. The presentation will also cover suicide prevention using Forefront’s Suicide Prevention LEARN® model to identify an individual at risk for suicide, including an overview on screening tools. Safety planning intervention will also be incorporated into this presentation.

Enhance Your Toolkit: An Experiential Training to Build a Collection of Processing Activities for Children and Teens


Risk factors of childhood bereavement vary per child and their unique individual experiences with learning about the death, comprehension of the cause of death, cognitive abilities, relationship with the deceased, age at the time of death, socioeconomic barriers, trauma history, and supportive resources can vary significantly from one another. Societal risk factors pre-date the death of a parent or a sibling and influence children’s coping skills and comprehension of the death. It is critical to consider children’s and caregivers’ pre-existing cognitive abilities and physical and mental health (Dopp & Cain, 2012; Nickerson et al., 2013) when creating resources and or programs to support bereaved children. This presentation focuses on creating a framework for articulating and labeling emotion, comprehension of death followed by hands-on activities for children and teens to better help address the risk factors of childhood bereavement in group or individual therapeutic work (Ener & Ray, 2017). The hands-on experience will allow participants to create an adaptive framework to best meet the cultural needs of their future program participants. Active examination and evaluation of participant professional and personal self-care will close out this experiential presentation. Providing engaging enrichment and experiential learning opportunities for those who support bereaved children is the primary objective of this presentation. Beginning with a foundation of emotional literacy, presenters will guide participants through the process of checking in to their emotional experience with patients as a guide for how, when, and with what goal to intervene. Participants will better understand how group support can provide bereaved children with encouragement they may not otherwise receive within their family unit due to bereaved family members (Dopp & Cain, 2012).

The Role of Story and Dramatic Play in Childhood Grief Processing


Through a combination of experiential practice, open discussion, and shared resources, attendees will gain knowledge of the role and impact of expressive arts in supporting grieving children. This workshop will offer examples from the presenters’ professional work (including The Healing Center’s summer day-camp: “The Healing Center Stages”) and concrete tools from drama therapy, creative storytelling, and other similar mediums that can be applied to a multitude of environments, including situations in which resources and/or time is limited.

Is that Grief?: Viewing Grief from a Trauma-Sensitive Lens


Grief is a universal, whole-person experience. And yet, we live in a death denying culture that does an inadequate job preparing us for the inevitable grief we will experience in our lifetime. Grief responses are subsequently misattributed or minimized, preventing individuals from accessing the grief support they deserve. By creating a grief-sensitive, trauma-informed environment, we can come alongside those who are grieving and honor their experience, validate the impact of grief, and offer tools and resources to enhance coping. Join us for a foundational presentation, providing both trauma-informed and grief-sensitive lenses, and discover how you can strengthen the ways you show up to care for children, teens, adults and families who are experiencing grief.

Trauma, Sensory Regulation or Emotional Regulation: How to Unpack Childhood Grief Responses


Understanding a child’s grief reactions can be difficult for the adults in the child’s life. Is it typical, age-appropriate behavior? Is it related to grief? Is it related to another cause? Whether or not a child is experiencing a grief reaction, typical behavior or behavior related to another cause, there is still an impact to the child’s nervous system. Strategies may look similar to assist children with managing their feelings and behaviors, however, understanding the root cause of the behavior can impact a child on a long term basis. No matter what age a child is, they can access tools to help their nervous system maintain regulation. The goal is to arm children with the tools they need to maintain regulation and empower them to advocate for themselves as they get older.

Our Soul is a Garden: Nurturing the Spiritualities of Children


In this presentation, I will begin by explaining some groundwork definitions, including what is spirituality (vs religion), what doing “trauma-informed spiritual care means”, and the three dimensions of connection that are present in the work of spiritual care. I will then briefly explain Fowler’s stages of spiritual development, and how to work with each stage of development to implement creative and somatic trauma-informed spiritual interventions for children, and how to integrate cultural sensitivity (a core tenet of trauma-informed practice) into cultivating the garden of spirituality.

Communicating with People with Disabilities


Let’s face it, it can be difficult to communicate with people with intellectual disabilities in the best of times. Research shows the need, especially with this population, to alter our methods of assessing their social, emotional, and practical needs so we can help them: express their thoughts & feelings, manage their difficult emotions following death, and search for and find the supports they need. In this frank, hands-on session we will hone our skills to become the experts these kids need. Hint: it will be lighter and easier than you think! Bring your patience, your creativity cap, your inner child, and your vast knowledge and be ready to think outside the box!

Quick Supports for Grief Through Art


There are many ways we can support young people who are grieving. Sometimes we just need solutions that are quick and easy. These can be used in schools or home or anywhere. I wanted to create a workshop where we will have time to go over things we can use on the spot. We will also have discussions about what we would want as a younger person. During this workshop we will make some art, utilize each other, and walk away with tools that we can have on hand when people come to us needing support.


Healing Through Poetry: The Pongo Method


Session attendees will learn & practice the Pongo Method, a trauma-informed poetry writing facilitation technique designed to inspire healing and growth among youth. Attendees will learn how to remove barriers to self-expression, encourage honesty from survivors of difficult life experiences, and will hone their skills as a poetry mentor. During the session, attendees will write their own poetry & experience the relief & joy that comes with the Pongo Method.

Continuing Education Credits

Clock Hour Claim Information for Attendees

To log in: www.pdenroller.org/welcome

Once logged in, go to: www.pdenroller.org/clockhours

Clock Hour Claim Code: 1RN-72L

Claim code for this event only. Subsequent events require a new claim code.

Conference Title: 2024 Northwest Conference on Childhood Grief

Maximum clock hours available: 7.50 ($22.50)

Clock Hour Class Number: SEN0138

This program has been approved for 7.5 social work continuing education hours for re-licensure, in accordance with 258 CMR, NASW-MA Chapter of CE Approving Program. Authorization No. D-81347.

The Institute for Continuing Education and Safe Crossings Foundation are cosponsors of this program. This co-sponsorship has been approved by NBCC.  The Institute for Continuing Education is an NBCC approved continuing education provider, ACEP Provider No. 5643. The Institute for Continuing Education solely is responsible for this program, including the awarding of NBCC credit.

The Institute for Continuing Education is an approved provider of continuing education in nursing by the California Board of Nursing, Provider CEP 12646.  Nurses are responsible for checking with their state board to determine if credit issued through an approved provider of the CA Board of Nursing is acceptable by their state board.

The Institute for Continuing Education is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Institute for Continuing Education maintains responsibility for this program and its content.  

Skills Level:   Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced.  Participants are urged to review the session descriptions to determine appropriateness for professional and personal needs.

Non-Credit EventsCE credit is not offered for registration, board meetings, meal functions, social events, and breaks.

Completed CE Materials:  Please prepare your professional license information to include on CE application materials. CE packets will be completed online.

NOTE: To receive continuing education credit, applicants must complete all CE materials, sign in/out at designated locations, and submit an evaluation form for the sessions attended. 

NOTE: It is the responsibility of the attendee to determine if CE credit offered by The Institute for Continuing Education meets the regulations of their state licensing/certification board, including the Ethics Workshops scheduled.

NOTE: Ethics credit is not offered for any workshop session

Goals for Conference

• Provide education on best practices through the exchange of timely clinical information, programs, advances in research, and successful ideas for children’s grief support programming
• Provide practical tools and skills to use when supporting grieving children
• Create a space for sharing, connecting, and learning from each other and diverse perspectives
• Promote networking and support among colleagues

Scroll to Top