14th Annual Childhood Grief and Traumatic Loss


“Restoring Joy to Grieving Children and Families”

It is estimated that more than two million children and adults die each year in the United States from natural, accidental, homicide, suicide or undetermined causes. Those who are left behind face the task of dealing with their loss. Children undergo trauma with the loss of a relationship and may at times be witness to a loved one's violent death. After a loss or trauma, it is the responsibility of adults in their lives to provide immediate attention, support, and education to help children cope. Effective healing experiences can help the child recover and deal with future losses.

With the support of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, the Departments of Mental Health and Public Health, the Los Angeles County of Office of Education, The California Association for Child Life Professionals, and many other professionals, ICAN/ICAN Associates is able to bring together innovative approaches and share the best treatment options for childhood grief and loss.


Dr. Michael Durfee Award - March 15, 2018

Presented to: Linda Weinberger, Ph.D.



Morning Plenary

When The Unthinkable Happens: Supporting Children After A Family Members’ Violent Death

Presented by Joan Schweizer Hoff, MA

Joan Schweizer Hoff, is Coordinator of Program Projects and Training at the Dougy Center for Grieving Children in Oregon, she is currently responsible for the coordination of six peer grief groups that provide support to grieving children, teens, and adults (including the grief group facilitators). As the prior Program Director for the Dougy Center, she has managed and supervised the center’s support group program for over 300 children per month. Having been responsible for the program’s development and direction, she will share her extensive knowledge of grief interventions and critical stress debriefings to those affected during a traumatic incident. Ms. Schwizer Hoff has presented over 500 workshops, seminars, interventions, and has trained nationally and internationally on the topics of children and teens’ grief; the impact of suicide and violent death on families, grief in schools, and crisis intervention. In her keynote address, she will provide information about the unique challenges faced by children after the violent death of a family member and will share information on a model program for working with grieving and traumatized children. She will share specific techniques for supporting them and because working with traumatized children and hearing their stories can be challenging for the social worker, group facilitator, therapist and first responders, she will emphasize the importance of self-care and will highlight specific techniques. 

Lunch Plenary

Interventions To Consider When Supporting Children And Families After Fatal Family Violence

Presented by Michael Durfee, M.D., Child Psychiatrist, Founder, ICAN National Center on Child Fatality Review

Linda Garcia, M.A., C.C.L.S., Child Life Specialist

Lauren Schneider, LCSW, Clinical Director at OUR HOUSE

Allegra Klacsmann, Ph.D. Department of Mental Health

Carolyn Kaneko, LCSW, Program Manager, Department of Mental Health

Arvis Jones, MA, Music Therapist

Dr. Michael Durfee will begin the panel presentation on children who survive fatal family violence by addressing the gaps in services while suggesting systemic improvements in our current response. Dr. Durfee will explain why a system that tracks child victims, their siblings and the services provided to them is a necessary tool in determining the best options for services. Linda Garcia will follow, highlighting the importance of professional in-service training, how to best prepare ourselves in our response to victims of family violence. Besides therapeutic options, what are alternative approaches to use with child victims during our initial response to them, and what is missing in our current response (For example, allowing children the choice of attending funerals, visit gravesites, etc.). Arvis Jones will follow by sharing her role as a first responder, and her first-hand experience delivering difficult news to children. She will provide concrete examples of how important our first response is and how our approach can either add, relieve or minimize trauma. Next, Dr. Allegra Klacsmann and Carolyn Kaneko will discuss the Department of Mental Health’s currently available services including Early childhood mental health trauma treatments, Trauma informed care, the need for developmental screening of young children and Parent-partner support. Lauren Schneider will speak on the value of school based programs, age appropriate interventions including peer support groups and camps for grieving children.

Therapy Dogs Empower and Provide Emotional Support to Child Victims of Crime

Presented by ACE MASK

ACE MASK and his Collie Kane have been active Pet Prescription Team volunteers for over five years, providing support and comfort as a therapy dog team in a large variety of settings including work with patients in Pediatric Oncology and intensive care unit. They also participate in programs working with brain injured children, library “read to the dogs” programs.They visit senior assisted care and Alzheimer care facilities, as well as providing stress relief for college students studying for finals and passengers awaiting flights at Ontario International Airport. They were honored to be chosen as the first therapy dog team assigned to the Children’s Advocacy Center in Covina. Kane is also a canine ambassador for Orange County Animal Care and he and Ace are part of their award winning program teaching responsible pet ownership to young children. Ace and his wife Donna own two other collies who also work as therapy dogs.


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