Led by Youth in Foster Care

Listening and Led by Youth in Foster Care: Grief, Hope, and Transitions (L.Y.G.H.T.) is a peer grief support program influenced by and developed for youth in foster care.

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About L.Y.G.H.T.

Multiple research studies conducted with youth in foster care demonstrate that youth’s experiences of death and non-death losses are under acknowledged in the child welfare system. Based on these findings, the L.Y.G.H.T. program was developed to create a trauma-informed and grief-informed program to support the needs of youth in foster care who are grieving.

L.Y.G.H.T. is a youth-led and youth-driven program facilitated by supportive adults. The program is facilitated by volunteers in the child welfare system who have successfully completed the L.Y.G.H.T. Facilitation training and is implemented at organizations in the youth’s local community.

Oversight and guidance of the L.Y.G.H.T. program is provided by Dougy Center program staff and on-site organizational clinical support staff.

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L.Y.G.H.T. Mission

At the core of the L.Y.G.H.T. program, we aim to raise awareness about how youth in foster care who are grieving experience marginalization on various levels, create ways to provide trauma-informed peer support to youth in foster care, and promote the importance of moving the child welfare community toward a grief-informed holistic model of care.

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The Impact of L.Y.G.H.T.

Dougy Center’s L.Y.G.H.T. program promotes peer-based support for youth in foster care who are grieving, providing a supportive and non-stigmatizing place to offer and receive support.

L.Y.G.H.T. is especially important to youth in foster care who are grieving because:

  • Grief is a natural response to loss of all kinds, adjusting to loss requires attention, and when it is buried or ignored, it may affect us in numerous physical, emotional, and social ways.
  • For decades, research has produced the same findings: Youth in foster care are at greater risk for negative outcomes than are youth in the general population.
  • Many of the commonly accepted protective factors which contribute to healthy development in adolescence are lacking for youth who have been in the foster care system, including the sense of safety, consistency, and self-efficacy.
  • While the circumstances which lead to a youth needing to be removed from their home may vary, the undeniable fact is that their life has experienced a disruption which dominoes into multiple losses.

L.Y.G.H.T. Timeline

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L.Y.G.H.T. Community Sites

Dougy Center partners with community organizations and agencies serving youth in foster care around the country. If you would like to learn how to start a L.Y.G.H.T. program in your community, email lyght@dougy.org or scroll down to contact us.

L.Y.G.H.T Community Sites

Research Evidence

For decades, research has produced the same findings: youth in foster care are at greater risk for negative outcomes than are youth in the general population. Youth in foster care advise us that their experiences of loss and grief are underacknowledged by the child welfare system.

To address this important need, Dougy Center’s L.Y.G.H.T. program was utilized in the research study, The L.Y.G.H.T. Program: An Innovative Grief Intervention for Children’s Wellbeing in Out-of-Home Care. The study was generously funded by The Duke Endowment. Findings from our first and second randomized control trials (RCT) can be found here. We are currently expanding the L.Y.G.H.T. program to more community sites in South Carolina. Updates on the L.Y.G.H.T. program are provided below.

Principal Investigator and L.Y.G.H.T. National Director, Monique B. Mitchell, PhD, FT and Co-Investigator, Donna L. Schuurman, EdD, FT.

For more information about L.Y.G.H.T., please contact us at lyght@dougy.org

Program Resources

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Reports & Articles

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L.Y.G.H.T. Newsletters

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Resources for Youth in Foster Care

Dougy Center is here for youth in foster care who are coping with death and non-death losses and need grief support and hope.

All Foster Care Resources

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