14: Darcy Krause

Show Notes

  • Darcy Krause is the Executive Director of the Center for Grieving Children
    • Darcy has been in this position for 5 years
    • She went through UPenn's licensed social worker (LSW) program
  • Darcy has an unusual story
    • She graduated from Duke Law
    • She practiced labor/employment law for 5 years
    • But something was missing
    • She had a very specific plan in mind when she went back to school
  • The Center for Grieving Children is a Philadelphia based grief counseling organization
    • 4 Locations in Philadelphia (3 of them in donated space)
      • East Falls is their headquarters (their space)
      • South Philly (donated by CHOP)
      • West Philly (donated by CHOP)
      • Lower North East (donated by Calvary Christian Church)
    • The Center provides free grief counseling for children ages 5 - 25 who have lost a close loved one to death
      • They are somewhat unique because they are very flexible in who they define as a close loved one
      • Some centers only provide services if its a parent / guardian or a sibling
  • Their services fall into four categories:
    • After school grief groups
      • Available at all 4 locations
      • There is also a group for parents or caregivers
      • The after-school programs run throughout the school year
    • 8 week in school group
      • Have a group in school during the day in conjunction with the school counselor
      • It's meant to give the children support in their own environment
      • It's large - in over 70 schools last year
      • They have a waitlist each year
    • They are starting a new community group this year in response to the opioid epidemic in Kensington
    • There is another group specifically for homicide deaths held at an evening reporting center for adjudicated youth
      • "There are a large enough concentration of youths that have maybe made some bad decisions, but we realize often times that is coming out of grief..."
      • The aim is to address the underlying trauma to prevent recidivism in youths who have lost a loved one to homicide
    • The Center also offers post-crisis interventions
      • They go into schools or other community organizations where a community member has died
      • When you read about a tragic event at a school, and it says "counseling provided on site," The Center for Grieving Children is one of those organizations
    • They also provide training to guidance counselors, teachers, and others to help them better understand what exactly grief is and how it manifests in children
  • Darcy has grown the center immensely
    • The Center was started as part of the bereavement program at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in 1995 but was founded as its own entity in 2000
    • She took over from a co-founder in 2012
    • The center was very small and localized almost exclusively to North Philadelphia - it was a "mom and pop" organization, but the board wanted her to expand it
    • They were only serving about 50 kids
    • She hired a team to help her
    • They started by evaluating the services they were offering and where they were being offered
    • They spoke with community leaders including Church leaders, business owners, etc
      • They received user feedback and expanded the services to fit those needs
      • For example, they went from having a one time in school workshop to the current 8 week model
      • They went from about 2 schools during her first spring to 25 schools the following year
        • Darcy believes flexibility and responsiveness are what has allowed the center to grow so rapidly
        • They also started the after-school program soon after by partnering with CHOP to use their space in West Philly
        • As an example of how much they've scaled, they went from serving about 50 kids to last year directly serving (in groups - not a full representation of all the services they offer) 800 children
        • They have also supported 200 caregivers and parents
        • Approximately 1 in 7 children loses a parent before the age of 18
        • Factoring in other close people in their lives, Darcy estimates that about 1 in 2 chilren lose a close loved one by 18
  • Most of programs run throughout the school year, but they have family fun nights in the summer to preserve the community
  • Families can come in at any point and leave at any point
    • Grief doesn't ever truly go away
    • Different life events can stir up old grief that you may not have felt in a long time
  • Darcy notes that while Philadelphia has been experiencing a boom of prosperity, there are still pockets of the city in poverty
  • Homicides and opioid overdoses are currently on the rise in Philadelphia
  • Darcy lost her mother when she was 15
    • This is how her journey into this work began
    • The grief would come up throughout different life changing events
      • Things like high school graduation, college graduation, having children all brought up her old grief
  • The Center has several next steps:
    • They want to find more sustainable monetary resources
    • Form partnerships with other city and state organizations to expand services
    • In the short-term, they plan to tweak some of their programs
      • For example, schools have asked them to do a longer program, so they're looking into the logistics
    • Eventually, they'd like to offer more services
      • For example, they get a lot of requests to craft a program for children with incarcerated parents
  • One of Darcy's most striking comments is that nationally, there aren't many centers for grieving children in urban areas - they tend to be a suburban and rural niche
    • This was so interesting because urban areas are where these services are needed the most
  • They are looking for entrepreneurs to donate services to them
    • Specifically, they need a graphic designer and a videographer!
    • They also need volunteers for various programs!
    • You can also try to become a sponsor of their Fall gala or their Spring golf event
    • Donate to the center here

Local Resources

Events

  • Art Night
  • Golf event