The Irish Childhood Bereavement Network

by Kay Conroy

I recently attended the launch of the above by Minister Frances Fitzgerald at the Irish Hospice Foundation offices in Nassau Street, Dublin.

Both the (IHF) and the Family Support Agency (FSA) jointly supported the development of a scoping study which explored the need for, and potential operation of, an Irish Childhood Bereavement Network.

The Study (McLoughlin 2012) mapped out the vision of the network which was generated by voluntary and statutory providers of children’s bereavement here in Ireland.

The FSA supports the delivery of bereavement counselling throughout Ireland through a national scheme of Grants to voluntary organisations providing marriage, relationship, child and bereavement counselling services. The focus of the Scheme is on the development of support services in the community for families, to enhance stability in family life and assist families and their members in dealing with difficult periods which they may experience.

The Children’s Bereavement Network (CBN) UK is looking forward to a close working relationship with the Irish network hoping to create an International Network in time. The recent Survey of Childhood Bereavement Services in Ireland (Carroll 2010) indicated that children’s bereavement services are utilising a diverse range of printed materials, have varying access to training and supervision and do not work to a common set of standards.

In addition, the 2008 Review of adult bereavement services (Petrus Consulting et al. 2008) documented difficulty in identifying up to date lists of bereavement service providers, including those serving children.The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) held a Forum for children and young people’s bereavement services at the end of May 2011 where the results of the Carroll survey were presented. Facilitated groups discussions were also held. The Forum resulted in the agreement to develop a network for children’s bereavement service providers and the request was for the IHF to progress this.

A meeting of Service Providers who expressed interest in the initiative was held in November 2011 and a Steering Committee was set up to progress the development of the Network. IHF commissioned Dr. Kathy McLoughlin to undertake a scoping study funded by the Family Support Agency (FSA). Contact with the UK Childhood Bereavement Network (CBN) was established.

The CBN has generously shared information about their network and has offered to work in partnership with Ireland to establish a Sister network. As current Chair of the Association of Agency-Based Counselling in Ireland (AACI) through collaboration with the newly- formed network and international stakeholders, there is the opportunity to add to the work of bereavement services in Ireland and across the world. The IAHIP has a large membership of practising Psychotherapists and many contribute and work with children in different circumstances – here is an opportunity for some of our members to register their interest in the network.

Kay Conroy is Co-Founder & Director of Turning Point Centre and Turning Point Training Institute(TPTI). She is a Psychotherapist, Trainer and Health Care Consultant.


Carroll, B. (2010) Survey of Childhood Bereavement Services in Ireland, MSc Bereavement Studies IHF/RCSI Ireland.
McLoughlin, K. (2012) Establishing a Children’s Bereavement Support Network in Ireland. A Scoping Study Dublin. Irish Hospice Foundation.

Petrus Consulting, Bates, V., Jordan, N., Malone, K., Monahan, E., O’Connor, S., & Tiernan, E. (2008) Review of general bereavement support and specific services available following suicide bereavement. Dublin: NOSP.
I greatly acknowledge the information and resources compiled by the IHF and FSA.