LEXINGTON, Ky. — ​​Thanks to support from the Kentucky Center for Grieving Children and Families, Scott County Schools is now observing the grieving process.

What You Need To Know

  • Scott County Schools announced a brand-new partnership for a pilot bereavement program that could help students who have lost someone in their lives

  • The program is funded by a $90,000 grant from the Kentucky Association of Health Plans

  • Eight schools in Scott County are testing the program

  • The center will provide up to 11 weeks of grief support groups to students in elementary through high school

The nonprofit recently announced a special partnership that will bring immersive grief-related resources to the district. The initiative is a grant from the Kentucky Association of Health Plans, which will fund $90,000 for a two-year startup program. It will include hands-on training for staff, tools that show how to help and school-based support groups.

The Kentucky Association of Health Plans, along with the New York Life Foundation, are helping with funding. (Kentucky Association of Health Plans)

“They're still kids and teens; they need to laugh, they need to connect with their friends," said Leila Salisbury, the center's executive director and founder. “They need to joke around with their peers, so we incorporate a lot of those things in our groups as well.

Scott County Schools superintendent Billy Parker said as a small school system, it can closely focus on mental and public health challenges. He added the grant will help serve specific needs and situations, such as students losing relatives or caregivers to overdose. 

One student lost both parents to an overdose, Parker said, a reality he wants to help students manage aside from academics. 

"That was the first student I thought of when I thought about the fact we were getting this grant," he said. "Sometimes, I don't think people realize until they start digging into what the root cause of some of the issues for our students are." 

Grief is complex and creates a world of mixed feelings, Salisbury said. She is also a parent of a child who has been through the grieving process and added she thinks educators can provide help by acknowledging students' feelings and listening. 

“Kids are resilient and they can bounce back from these things, but they need support to do that and resources and adults who will champion them as they are on this healing journey for themselves," she said.