Contact UsTalk With An Advocate
Send a Message
Frequently Asked Questions
HOW DOES HANDLE WITH CARE WORK?
The program is very simple: Law enforcement officers at the scene of crime, violence and/or abuse are identifying children at the scene who have been exposed to trauma. The child’s name, age and school is sent by Law Enforcement in a confidential notice to the child’s school before the child starts school the next day. There is no information being given except for the child’s name and these three words “handle with care.” Schools are learning how to be trauma sensitive and identifying interventions that will mitigate the negative effects of trauma on the children. So if the child acts out, the teacher has a heads up and might send the child to the counselor instead of the principle, give the child extra time to do a project or postpone a test. When school interventions are not sufficient, therapists can provide services on site at the school for children who need therapy.
HOW DOES HANDLE WITH CARE HELP CHILDREN SUCCEED IN SCHOOL?
The Michigan Initiative, commonly referred to as “Handle With Care,” is tailored to reflect the needs and issues affecting children in Michigan. The Initiative, a result of a collaborative effort of key stakeholders and partners, builds upon the success of proven programs throughout the country, and taken primarily from W. Virginia’s Defending Childhood Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to prevent children’s exposure to trauma and violence, mitigate negative affects experienced by children’s exposure to trauma, and to increase knowledge and awareness of this issue. At the end of the day, through Handle With Care, children will remain in their schools and classrooms and be better able to function and learn.
HOW DOES TRAUMA AFFECT CHILDREN’S WELL BEING AND ABILITY TO LEARN?
A recent national survey of the incidence and prevalence of children’s exposure to violence and trauma revealed that 60% of American children have been exposed to violence, crime or abuse. Forty percent were direct victims of two or more violent acts. Prolonged exposure to violence and trauma can seriously undermine children’s ability to focus, behave appropriately, and learn in school. It often leads to school failure, truancy, suspension or expulsion, dropping out, or involvement in the juvenile justice system.
WHERE DID HANDLE WITH CARE COME FROM?
In short, it came from West Virginia. In 2009 the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention published a study on children’s exposure to violence and it was a wakeup call to see just how prevalent children’s exposure to violence is in their homes, schools and communities. Nationally, Attorney General Eric Holder launched the Defending Childhood initiative on September 23, 2010, to address a national crisis: the exposure of America’s children to violence as victims and as witnesses. The WV Children’s Justice Task Force in collaboration with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the South District of West Virginia formed a subcommittee in 2011 to explore programing to look at the problem of children’s exposure to violence and to look for programming that could help mitigate the negative effects of trauma on children. Locally, Michigan’s HWC initiative was started in Jackson County when a core team of community stakeholders agreed that what they were doing in W. Virginia would be a great fit for our own community.
WHAT ARE THE OUTCOMES FROM THE PILOT PROJECT?
Initially, HWC experienced hurdles. But during the four month pilot Jackson County law enforcement agencies provided notices involving 171 children! In line with the findings in W. Virginia, school interventions are enough to help 90% of the identified children but for others on site counseling is needed. Approximately 10% are now receiving or have received vital counseling services on-site at school. Additionally, the relationships between education and Law Enforcement and the overall community have been strengthened. The notices became an invitation to collaboration. Law Enforcement routinely call and interact with the schools. Teachers were better able to address issues in the classroom. Mental Health providers were able to see children interacting in their school environments. Handle With Care become a magnet to assist agencies in working together, build community trust and most importantly help children struggling with the effects of trauma.