Handle With Care
MODEL HWC PROGRAMS
ULTIMATE GOAL OF HWC
“Trauma can undermine children’s ability to learn, form relationships and function appropriately in the classroom, whether virtually or in person... Given the turbulent nature of our times, we are facing unprecedented levels of life-changing events. The Handle with Care Program will provide improved communication, compassionate engagement, and teacher sensitivity.”
Read more about San Diego's experience with HWC here.
"Handle with Care" provides the school or child care agency with a “heads up” when a child has been identified at the scene of a traumatic event. It could be a meth lab explosion, a domestic violence situation, a shooting in the neighborhood, witnessing a malicious wounding, a drug raid at the home, etc. When police note that there was a child present at the scene of an incident, DAC obtains that child's information, contacts their school's resource officer, and facilitates the distribution of a card that says. . . “Handle Johnny with care” to all teachers Johnny has that day. That’s it. No other details.
School resource officers also build positive relationships with students by interacting on a regular basis. They visit classrooms, stop by for lunch, and simply chat with students to help promote positive relationships and perceptions of officers.
Teachers have been trained on the impact of trauma on learning, and are incorporating many interventions to mitigate the negative impact of trauma for identified students, including: sending students to the school nurse's office to rest (when a HWC has been received and the child is having trouble staying awake or focusing); re-teaching lessons; postponing testing; etc. Many Fort Wayne schools have also implemented interventions to help create trauma sensitive schools (Greeters; pairing students with an adult mentor in the school; “thumbs up/thumbs down” to indicate if a student is having a good day or a bad day; etc.).
School Counseling and Nursing:
When identified students exhibit continued behavioral or emotional problems in the classroom, the teacher sends them to the counselor or to the nurse.
While there, students can take time to decompress, take a nap, talk to a trusted adult about what they've experienced, or anything else they may need.
When identified students exhibit continued behavioral or emotional problems in the classroom and is sent to the nurse or counselor's office, the student's parent will receive a referral to a counseling agency which provides trauma-focused therapy. Once the counseling agency has received a referral and parental consent, students can receive on-site counseling.
The counseling is provided to children and families at times which are least disruptive for the student. Counselors provide assessments of the child’s need, psychological testing, treatment recommendations, accommodation recommendations, and status updates to key school personnel as authorized by the child’s parent or guardian.
Here is what a Handle With Care Card looks like:
This program, along with the explanation of it above, was directly inspired by that of West Virginia. The pilot program was run in WV and more information on it can be found here: