BY JOHN DANDURAND

We want to take the opportunity this month to introduce you to The Human Services Network of Colorado (aka The Network). This local nonprofit association exists to create opportunities to improve the quality and integrity of services provided to vulnerable populations. 

The Network’s goals are to:

• Support frontline human service workers with at least twelve skills-training events, one advanced practitioner professional development event and two social/networking events per year;

• Assist direct service providers by providing best-practice and evidence-based models;

• Advocate for human service clients and reduce barriers to quality service provision by advocating for client-centered practice.

The Network has over 1,300 members, representing more than 250 Metro Denver human service agencies. Most of these provide a single service such as education, health care, housing, mental health or employment services. 

Next month, The Network of Colorado is presenting a workshop on Grief and Bereavement from 9am to 12pm, on May 21, at the Denver Rescue Mission, 6100 Smith Road, Denver, CO 80216. The workshop is designed to provide grief and trauma education and awareness to increase professionals’ confidence and competence to better support the populations they serve. The presentation will address misconceptions and myths that can lead to misunderstandings with bereaved individuals. Participants will take an in-depth look at the developmental understandings of death and common grief reactions from infancy to adulthood. Suggestions will be offered to assist professionals in providing support while fostering growth and resilience through grief- and trauma-informed care. By exploring disruptive grief reactions and restorative grief experiences, the presenter will demonstrate the importance of responding in a manner that launches a whole-family, whole-community, preventative, strengths-based approach. The workshop will provide an example of such an approach, the Comprehensive Grief Care™ (CGC) Model. According to the Childhood Bereavement Estimation Model (CBEM) more than 6% of Colorado youth will experience the death of a sibling or parent before they reach their 18th birthday. This is an underestimate of childhood bereavement, as it excludes countless deaths of other significant figures in a child’s life. Despite the prevalence of child and family bereavement across our state, many youth service workers and advocates express discomfort when assisting families who have experienced the death of an important person in their lives.

The workshop objectives are to:

• Delineate myths and misperceptions about death and grief that commonly lead to misunderstandings.

• Identify developmental understandings of death and common grief reactions from infancy to adulthood.

• Understand how to support grieving individuals by providing basic empathic responses that promote a grief-sensitive environment. Provide referrals to local resources that can support bereaved children and families.

The workshop presenter is Micki Burns, PhD, Chief Clinical Officer at Judi’s House/JAG Institute.  Dr. Burns has worked as a licensed psychologist with youth and families in mental health and educational settings, gaining a firsthand account of the lasting impact of unaddressed grief.

The Network was created to increase interagency communication among human service providers to foster more effective services, resulting in a higher incidence of client self-determination and stabilization. The Network provides resource sharing, and training and networking opportunities to support the professionalization of service providers. In addition to the Grief and Bereavement event, some of their upcoming workshops include:

• Trauma-Informed Practice for Direct Service Providers, April 16 and 17, 9AM—4PM, at Denver Rescue Mission, 6100 Smith Road, Denver, CO 80216

• Motivational Interviewing – Two-Day Basic, May 2 and 16, 8:30AM—5 PM at Betty Ford Center, 14001 E Iliff Ave #120, Aurora, CO 80014

To find out more about the The Network, or to register for an event, visit https://thenetwork-co.org or call 720-252-3628.

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