Handle With Care Program begins this school year

FLINT TWP. — The Genesee County Chiefs of Police Association, Genesee Intermediate School District, Weiss Child Advocacy Center, Easter Seals, Genesee Health System (GHS), Whaley Children’s Center and Michigan Department for Health and Human Services Genesee County office have all collaborated to launch a Handle With Care pilot program in Genesee County schools for the 2018-19 school year.

The Handle With Care program promotes a school and law enforcement partnership designed to ensure that children who are exposed to trauma in their home or in the community receive appropriate interventions to help them thrive to the best of their ability, in spite of the traumatic circumstances they experienced. The ultimate focus of the program is to help students succeed in school after the exposure to trauma.

As part of the program, school staff will be notified when one of their students is involved in, or is a witness to a traumatic event. When a law enforcement officer encounters a child during a call, a confidential message will be sent from law enforcement to the child’s school before the start of the next school day, alerting staff to “handle the student with care.” The notice from law enforcement will not include details of the incident; however, school staff will then know to be especially attentive to the child’s needs and sensitive to his/her circumstances outside of school.

“We are very excited to bring this program to Genesee County. This program allows us to share information confidentially that teachers need to know to help a child succeed or provide the necessary services. It is a way that law enforcement and teachers can work together,” said Chief Theresa Stephens- Lock, Mott Community College Chief. “This program promotes the values and concern that we embody for all Genesee County schools. It directly impacts the student’s life in a positive way while allowing teachers and school officials to determine the best ways to support the student. Often times the school can be last to know about a traumatic event that has occurred in a student’s life” noted Tricia Hill Executive Director of Center for Countywide Programs at the Genesee Intermediate School District

Through this program, law enforcement and schools will also gain a better awareness and understanding of the different Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) that students face during their time away from school.

The Handle With Care model was developed and implemented in West Virginia. Our friends at the Jackson County MDHHS implemented this project in August of 2017 and they have been instrumental in bringing awareness of this program to Michigan.— G.G.

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