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Handle with Care

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Photo by Jesse Major

The Handle With Care (HWC) program enables first responders to notify schools when they encounter a child at an incident so schools can provide trauma- sensitive support right away.

CheckmarkThe Problem: Childhood Trauma

  • Childhood trauma, or Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), occurs when kids experience stressful events (such as witnessing domestic violence, a house fire, or a medical emergency).
  • 60% of U.S. children have been exposed to violence, crime, or abuse.
  • These kids still go to class, carrying a burden of stress and trauma that can interfere with their behavior and grades.

CheckmarkA Solution: Handle With Care
  1. PolicePolice encounter kids at the scene, send heads-up to schools.
    First Responders including Fire, Police, and Sheriff encounter youth at an event and are trained to send a confidential email notification to the school district. The email contains the child’s name and a message to “Handle With Care.” Nothing about the traumatic incident is shared with the school.
  2. SchoolSchools prep trauma-sensitive support for kids.
    HWC notifications will be received by designated PASD staff who will notify the appropriate principal that the student has been exposed to a difficult experience. Staff will observe the student’s behavior and be prepared to provide trauma-sensitive support as needed. For example, if the student is disruptive or calls out for attention a teacher might send the child to the counselor or nurse instead of the principal, give extra time for tests, or do other actions that do not add to the trauma.
  3. TrainingTraining and support.
    First Responders and School staff are participating in training on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) and trauma-informed responses.
CheckmarkBackground:
  • HWC started in West Virginia in 2013. Now more than 500 school districts, cities, counties, and states have implemented HWC. In Washington State, nearby Kitsap County started HWC two years ago.
  • In Port Angeles, HWC involves a diverse team of agencies and organizations committed to helping children thrive including (in alphabetical order): Clallam County Sherriff’s Office, Clallam Resilience Project (United Way), Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe Police Department, Port Angeles Fire Department, Port Angeles Healthy Youth Coalition, Port Angeles Police Department, Port Angeles School District.