Handle With Care promotes partnerships to help students succeed in school.
Children who are exposed to trauma at home, in school or the community need intervention to help them achieve academically despite the traumatic circumstances they may have experienced. No matter what the source of the trauma, the common thread for effective intervention is the school. Trauma can undermine a child’s ability to learn, form relationships, and function appropriately in the classroom. HWC programs support who have been exposed to trauma or violence by improving communication between law enforcement and the schools.
Handle With Care trains police and school district leaders.
The Handle with Care pilot program has so far trained more than 100 police officers and school leaders in Lehigh and Northampton counties. Both groups embraced this model of enhanced police-school communications to better support students exposed to traumatic events. We have partnered with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Safe2Say Something command center, which already has communication processes and systems in place in all public, private and charter schools across the state. Police are trained to identify children at the scene of a traumatic event, and deliver a confidential message that says simply, “Handle this child with care.”
Here’s how it works:
- When a law enforcement officer answers a call and a child is present, a Handle with Care referral is submitted into a special portal of the Safe2Say Something system, which has been built specifically for this purpose.
- The officer submits the child’s name and school using an online form designated for police departments.
- The referral is received and a school administrator is automatically notified that the student was present during a police interaction and should be handled with care.
- School staff is asked to be aware of this experience and provide any necessary support for the child without asking about the event.
- The child’s behavior is carefully observed for signs of trauma, changes in mood, increased agitation or aggression, zoning out, fatigue, or crying. Teachers and staff should respond with trauma-informed practices in caring for the child.
United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, in partnership with Resilient Lehigh Valley, was awarded a PCCD Grant in 2019 to fund the implementation of a Handle with Care pilot program in Lehigh and Northampton counties. Working with the Departments of Human Services in the two counties, additional trainings will be provided, with an expected launch of the pilot in August 2020.