(BROOME COUNTY, NY) Today a new countywide “Handle With Care” program was announced to support school age children across Broome county who have experienced traumatic events in their lives.
“Handle With Care” (HWC) is designed to promote partnerships between community partners that include law enforcement, first responders, mental health professionals and schools to help provide a safe and supportive academic environment for children exposed to traumatic events known as “adverse childhood experiences,” or ACEs. ACEs, if unaddressed, can lead to challenges such as substance use disorders and mental health concerns, and can have a lasting impact on a child’s health, well-being, and academic success.
“This is a great initiative to promote partnerships between our local school districts and their mental health staff and law enforcement, especially when those efforts help protect students from the impact of adverse childhood experiences,” said Broome County Executive Jason Garnar. “Handle With Care was designed to do just that.
“The initiative is a wonderful partnership in which timely notifications from law enforcement alert educational professionals of potentially life altering incidents that might otherwise go unknown,” said James Hawley with NY-NJ HIDTA.
Under the program, law enforcement officers on the scene will notify a school district if a child is involved in a traumatic event, so that a staff member can mitigate the negative impact, rather than unwittingly compounding it by disciplining the child for behavioral, truancy or performance issues that may be connected to the trauma. The school may offer support by, for example, providing extra help with lessons, postponing a test, or referring the child to a school nurse or counselor.
“I’m excited to see this partnership take off, we know that adverse childhood experiences can have a lasting effect on a person not only in adolescence but throughout the course of their life,” said Marissa Knapp, Broome County’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Coordinator. “Addressing trauma when it happens will help a student with support and create connections in school with a staff member who has had the necessary training to address their needs.”
“Children are our most precious resource and the future of our community. Dealing with trauma at its earliest stages can have a lasting positive impact on a child’s future,” said Broome County District Attorney Mike Korchak. “The Broome County District Attorney’s Office fully supports the Handle With Care Program.
The program ensures privacy is protected. Specific details of the event are not shared with the school, due to the sensitivity of the subject.
A “traumatic event” for a child is defined broadly to include, among other things:
- a child being a victim of violence, abuse, or neglect;
- witnessing violence in the home or community;
- the death of an immediate family member or guardian;
- the arrest of a household member or execution of a search warrant in the home;
- being forcibly displaced from a home by a fire, eviction, or other event; or
- having a family member overdose or attempt or die by suicide.
“The Union-Endicott School District is pleased to participate in this partnership with local agencies,” said Union-Endicott CSD Superintendent Nicole Wolfe. “Our student’s safety is top priority, and this program is one way to support their social-emotional well-being. We view HWC as a tool to help build relationships between home, school and community.”
“’Handle With Care’ will formalize what the Endicott Police Department has been doing for years with the Union-Endicott School District through our School Resource Officer but will improve the process by making sure nothing falls through the cracks,” said Endicott Chief of Police Patrick Garey. “It will also help to ensure information is sent to other school districts when their students are present during incidents in Endicott. Anything we can do to help protect children involved in adverse childhood experiences is a welcomed program and partnership.”