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Training for Teachers

WHEN THE SCHOOL RECEIVES A HANDLE WITH CARE NOTICE
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Teachers/school staff will:

  • Monitor the child's behavior,

  • Maintain confidentiality,

  • Send the child to the nurse to rest if extra sleepy,

  • Re-teach lessons,

  • Postpone testing,

  • Or refer the student to the principal/counselor/nurse if the      behavior is not typical.

Teachers/school staff will not:

  • Question the student about the event in any way,

  • Break confidentiality,

  • Act differently than they normally would,

  • Call the student out on behavior in front of others.

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  • What is the Handle With Care program?
    The Handle with Care program is a new initiative supported by the St. Louis Area Violence Prevention Commission that supports children exposed to trauma and violence through improved communication and collaboration between law enforcement, schools and mental health services. The program is very simple: Using a licensed a proprietary software – p3 care alert – law enforcement will confidentially notify a school when a child may have been exosed to a traumatic event (fire, eviction, shooting, arrest, etc.). Accessible on both web and mobile browsers – the platform sends real-time care alerts directly to school officials. First responders are trained to collect the child's full name, school and date of birth. That information is sent to schools in the form of a confidential alert to handle the child with care. No information about the trauma is shared with school officials. Schools are being trained in trauma-sensitive policies and interventions that will mitigate the negative effects of trauma on the children. Teachers and appropriate school staff are alerted that the student might need special attention. The school’s reaction to behavior problems could be adjusted by sending the child to the counselor instead of the principle, giving the child extra time to do a project or postponing a test.
  • What are the immediate benefits of a HWC program?
    For Students: Trauma can undermine children's ability to learn, form relationships, and function appropriately in the classroom. HWC will prevent a students’ behavior from being labeled as problematic, allowing them to receive nurturing support in the wake of having witnessed a traumatic event. For Schools: Facilitates timely and appropriate care to vulnerable students, helping them to function appropriately in the classroom. For Law Enforcement/First Responders: Acknowledging that interactions can be traumatic is the first step in buffering the effects of crime and violence in a child’s life. Care Alerts facilitate proactive measures to prevent additional trauma.
  • How does Handle With Care help children succeed in school?
    The goal of the initiative is to mitigate negative affects experienced by children’s exposure to trauma, and to increase knowledge and awareness of this issue. At the end of the day, through Handle With Care STL, children will remain in their schools and classrooms and be better able to function and learn. Children that need additional mental health supports will be referred to appropriate in-school mental health professionals.
  • How does trauma affect children’s well being and ability to learn?
    A recent national survey of the incidence and prevalence of children’s exposure to violence and trauma revealed that 60% of American children have been exposed to violence, crime or abuse. Forty percent were direct victims of two or more violent acts. Prolonged exposure to violence and trauma can seriously undermine children’s ability to focus, behave appropriately, and learn in school. It often leads to school failure, truancy, suspension or expulsion, dropping out, or involvement in the juvenile justice system. Schools are learning how to be trauma sensitive and identifying interventions that will mitigate the negative effects of trauma on the children. So, if the child acts out, the teacher has a heads up and might send the child to the counselor instead of the principle, give the child extra time to do a project or postpone a test. When school interventions are not sufficient, therapists can provide services on site at the school for children who need therapy.
  • Where did Handle With Care come from?
    In short, it came from West Virginia. In 2009 the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention published a study on children’s exposure to violence and it was a wakeup call to see just how prevalent children’s exposure to violence is in their homes, schools and communities. Nationally, Attorney General Eric Holder launched the Defending Childhood initiative on September 23, 2010, to address a national crisis: the exposure of America’s children to violence as victims and as witnesses. The WV Children’s Justice Task Force in collaboration with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the South District of West Virginia formed a subcommittee in 2011 to explore programing to look at the problem of children’s exposure to violence and to look for programming that could help mitigate the negative effects of trauma on children.
  • What are the outcomes from other HWC programs?
    Other programs report that school interventions are enough to help 90% of the children that receive HWC notices, but for others on site counseling is needed. Approximately 10% of youth receive vital counseling services on-site at school. Additionally, the relationships between education and Law Enforcement and the overall community have been strengthened. The notices became an invitation to collaborate. Law Enforcement routinely call and interact with the schools. Teachers are better able to address issues in the classroom. Mental Health providers were able to see children interacting in their school environments. Handle With Care become a magnet to assist agencies in working together, build community trust and most importantly help children struggling with the effects of trauma.
  • What are the challenges that Handle With Care encounters?
    There are very few challenges to Handle With Care implementation. Lack of resources, while always a challenge, has never been a barrier to implementation. The Handle With Care program was started with support from the Violence Prevention Commission. No funds were needed from law enforcement or schools to participate. Agencies allowed employees to contribute their time to the program and resources were leveraged to provide technical assistance. Handle With Care training is incorporated into regular professional development days and schools find that the 60 minutes of training is well worth the benefits. Law Enforcement initially saw Handle With Care as additional paperwork, but when they see how little effort is needed and how the children benefited, they were very willing to participate. While most Handle With Care Programs face barriers finding mental health providers, we have that handled. Several of our schools are already trauma informed and Alive and Well is driven to provide ongoing training opportunities and technical assistance. We are also fortunate to have the MO mandate for trauma informed schools – which is a model for other states.
  • I’m concerned about student and family privacy. What information will law enforcement share about incidents with school staff?
    No information about the incident is shared with school staff. We also value and respect the privacy of students and families in our community. Schools will not know any details about what occurred. It's not important to know what happened, but rather that something traumatic happened and child may need trauma-senstive supports so they feel safe and learn.
  • What communication will be shared with parents and the community?
    Law Enforcement and First Responders can distribute a HWC brochure at the scene that will provide information about the program for the community and parents. Each participating school will have their own protocols for informing and engaging parents (parent orientations, parent/teacher conferences, etc.).
  • How timely will this entire process will this be?
    Law enforcement officers must submit a HWC notice immediately as a part of their reporting after every incident, and their supervising sergeants are responsible for reviewing all police reports for each shift. School districts’ have designated specific teams within their central administration offices responsible for receiving the initial notices from law enforcement and then disseminating to the appropriate individual school building staff. The goal of Handle With Care is for schools to be aware of potentially traumatic incidents occurring in the community before school starts the next morning.
  • What if a child lives outside of the city of St. Louis, but attends a school within the City of St. Louis? Or if he/she lives in St. Louis City, but attends school in the County?"
    Implementation of the HWC Program will begin in St. Louis City, which will include SLPS, SLMPD, and First Responders. Other city school districts have been asked to join. Phase II will include expansion to St. Louis County Police Departments, First Responders, and county schools.
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