Program Spotlight: Children & Family Services

— Serious illness, death and grief are a natural part of life, and getting through it with Hospice of Santa Barbara can help us hold onto cherished memories and reflect positively on the grieving process. In our community, one in five children will experience the death of someone close to them.  By the age of 18, one in 20 will lose one or both parents. Hospice of Santa Barbara’s (HSB) Children & Family Services proudly provides children’s counseling, programs and outreach designed to provide compassionate care and bereavement services through these difficult time – all at no cost to clients.


Counseling for children and their families doesn’t have to be a recollection of negative thoughts and feelings. At Hospice of Santa Barbara, toddlers, children and their families find a safe space to begin to heal and interact with others who have gone through similar troubles. The cornerstone of the program is HSB’s commitment to children and their parents.

Children and teens can develop skills from support groups that allow them to cope with their losses though therapeutic games, art, crafts and music. The skills they learn will leave them feeling cared for, nurtured and more empowered. Parents can also share their issues and concerns in a private environment that provides comfort, common purpose and the tools needed to support family relationships.  Bereavement services include Individual and group counseling as well as family counseling sessions.

I Have a Friend

One very unique and successful children’s program at Hospice of Santa Barbara is a mentor program called “I Have a Friend.” It was created by former Hospice of Santa Barbara Executive Director the late Gail Rink after she overheard a young boy, who had recently lost his father, speaking to his mother. He asked her, “Will I ever feel normal again?” Gail had the spark of an idea and the mentor program was formed.

A trained adult mentor who experienced the death of a parent or sibling when they were young is matched with a child newly coping with a similar death. The similar journey creates a special companionship with someone who truly understands the loss and related issues and obstacles that may come about as a result of the death. Their common experience can lead to communication and insights that may not be possible with family members or friends.

The benefits are two-fold as the mentor him/herself may discover and address their own unresolved issues of grief during the training process.

I Have a Friend mentors are living proof to grieving children that there will be hope, happiness and wholeness, and that they will be “normal” again. These relationships often last for years, even after they ‘graduate’ from the program.  A normal week is a 2 hour visit that includes an outing or walk with the mentor and the child.

Hospice of Santa Barbara is seeking mentor volunteers for the program and will hold training 9 am-4 pm Jan. 14 and 21 at its offices, 2050 Alameda Padre Serra, Suite #100, Santa Barbara 93103

For more information and a mentor application, please visit or contact Nicole Romasanta, Director of Volunteer Services, at (805) 563-8820.

Youth Outreach in Local Schools

Hospice of Santa Barbara has a weekly presence at high schools in Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, Goleta and even the Santa Ynez Valley.

We provide individual counseling and peer support groups at many local public high school campuses continuously throughout each school year.   HSB conducts its service on schools campuses because this population is not able to access counseling at our office and because the school sites are where we can best offer the support group modality. 

Through these partnerships, school counselors will identify and refer students to HSB for bereavement counseling. These students may have experienced the death of family members or friends, have loved ones who have been diagnosed with a serious illnesses or may be experiencing illnesses themselves.

We also provide educational services and time limited peer group support to any requesting local school experiencing a death of a student or faculty.