Perrysburg Schools will launch a new initiative, Handle With Care, on Tuesday, January 17, 2023. The Handle With Care (HWC) program is growing quickly in Ohio and other states across the country. Ohio HWC is a cross-systems, trauma-informed response to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) promoting resilience through positive relationships with school staff members and first responders. The only cost for this program to the school district was for some training and supplies, which were covered by a safety grant. The program includes first responder visits, frequent occasions for community first responders to visit local schools for positive interactions with students.
“We have always enjoyed a solid partnership with our first responders, keeping our students’ well-being as a top priority,” shared Chris Harper M.A., LPCC-S, LSW, LPSC, Assistant Director of Student Services and Well-Being for Perrysburg Schools. “But we are excited to use HWC to formalize and standardize these practices to ensure all students who may be impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences receive the support they need.”
HWC programs promote safe and supportive homes, schools and communities that protect children, and help traumatized children heal and thrive. HWC promotes school-community partnerships aimed at ensuring that children who are exposed to trauma in their home, school or community receive appropriate interventions to help them achieve their greatest potential despite whatever traumatic circumstances they may have endured. Directed by Hopewell Health Centers and supported by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Ohio HWC is part of the network of state and community efforts to implement HWC under the national leadership of Handle With Care WV. Please visit https://handlewithcareoh.org for more information.
Perrysburg Schools employees have been trained on the impact of trauma on learning, and are incorporating interventions to mitigate the negative impact of trauma for identified students, including: sending students to the clinic to rest (when a HWC has been received and the child is having trouble staying awake or focusing); re-teaching lessons; postponing testing; small group counseling by school counselors; and referrals to counseling, social service or advocacy programs. Schools also implement “Ways to Handle With Care” and many school-wide interventions to help create a trauma-sensitive school.
"Handle with Care" provides our school district with a “heads up” when a child has been identified at the scene of a traumatic event. Police and other first responders are trained to identify children at the scene, find out where they go to school and send the school/agency a confidential message that simply says: “Handle this student with care” with no other details.
In addition to providing notice, all first responders also build positive relationships with students by visiting schools on a regular basis. They visit classrooms, stop by for lunch, attend class parties, school assemblies and simply chat with students to help promote positive relationships and perceptions of officers.