Ending childhood restraint benefiting our students and law enforcement

Handle With Care

Missing homework and falling asleep in class are common examples of misbehavior but, for some students, they can also be the first sign that they have experienced significant trauma.

Handle With Care helps to distinguish between the two by partnering schools and police officers.

An estimated 60% of all children have witnessed violence, crime, or abuse. Each of these events and experiences holds the potential to impact a child negatively, but schools are rarely aware when these incidents occur. Handle With Care creates this system through notifications, ensuring schools can offer the support children need to thrive and succeed.

Approach

  • The program begins when a police officer responds to a potentially traumatic incident where a minor was present. This includes, but is not limited to, instances involving arrests, search warrants, violence, abuse, or homicide.
  • Afterward, the officer sends the child’s name, age, and school to a designated contact at the school, excluding any details of the incident to protect the student’s privacy.
  • School employees who interact with the student, including teachers and guidance counselors, receive the “Handle with Care” notification.
  • The program may end here for some students, but other students may require additional support. For these instances, Handle With Care offers students the opportunity to speak with mental health professionals in the school’s network, pending their parent’s consent.

Outcomes

  • Handle with Care trains teachers to recognize when children are struggling and prepares school staff to support students through stressful times, enabling children to succeed academically and socially.
  • For instance, children who fall asleep in class may go to the nurse, and those who struggle on assignments may stay after class for one-on-one tutoring.
  • These trauma-sensitive approaches encourage stable and supportive relationships, ensuring schools remain an environment where kids feel safe.
  • Handle With Care additionally allows teachers and police officers to expand their impact, providing the tools to care for their community emotionally and physically.

 

Precedent

  • Handle With Care has been implemented by cities, counties, and states. Nevada, Delaware, West Virginia, and Kentucky stand as a few that have passed statewide legislation.
  • The program has been successfully piloted in various communities across Texas, including San Antonio, Galena Park, Montgomery County, and Fort Worth.

Frequent Questions

How is Handle with Care implemented?

The Handle With Care program can start within a few weeks. There are no costs needed to complete the implementation process.

What does HWC look like in practice for law enforcement officers and teachers?

Both police officers and teachers have asked for ways to further connect with students.

Handle With Care provides this additional touchpoint while minimizing the burden placed on law enforcement and teachers, as they already bear a heavy load.

Police officers accordingly send a brief Handle With Care notification that may be completed in two minutes. Teachers then monitor for potential signs of trauma.

How are officers and teachers prepared to handle children experiencing trauma?

Both officers and school personnel are trained on the signs of trauma and how they may manifest. From there, they gain the tools to help children cope with immensely stressful situations and promote resiliency.

How do Handle With Care Notices improve children's education and well-being?

Trauma can disrupt a child’s ability to learn. Many children who experience trauma struggle to focus, develop anxiety, and experience poor sleep, which can negatively impact their school performance.

However, by providing advance notice, teachers are able to anticipate potential signs they may witness and be prepared to help students navigate difficulties. For instance, teachers may provide tutoring after class following absences or inattention. They may also send students who fall asleep in class to the nurse.

How does HWC impact LEO & school staff's workload?

HWC is successful with an effort toward communication, reminders to school staff, and training to staff:

  • These efforts include acknowledgment of behavior with a lens of what could be causing it
  • School staff and police officers can each be trained in a few hours to understand the process of sending and receiving Handle With Care notifications, as well as beginning a trauma-informed approach.

How can we best protect a child’s privacy?

Handle With Care protects a student’s privacy by never disclosing the details of the incident. The notification includes the name, age, school, and a message stating “Handle with Care.” This confidential notification has the option of being communicated through email, text, or calling the dispatcher who would send the email or text.

What are the expectations of HWC?

  • Teachers are not expected to initially change the way they interact with the child. The greatest change occurs when they notice the child struggling.
  • A child who falls asleep in class after an incident late at night, for example, may be sent to the nurse rather than the principal. A student may similarly be sent to a counselor, instead of a principal.
  • Teachers are meant to observe in the HWC program. No additional reports are required from the police officers and school staff involved.

How is progress & outcomes of HWC measured?

Handle with Care is a system that can refer the child to additional services such as the school social worker, nurse, or mental health professional.

Does HWC have age cut-offs?

There is not an age cut-off for HWC in schools. Handle with Care currently serves students in grades K-12.

What is the time commitment required for HWC?

Training for HWC can be completed in a few hours. Following training, the time commitment includes sending HWC notifications when a child is encountered at the scene of a call.

Questions?

Are you a policymaker, member of the media, or a prospective partner? Please feel free to give us a call, send us an email, or fill out our form.

Thank you for stopping by!

Phone: (281) 401-9229
Email: policy@minaretfoundation.com