Start ‘Handle With Care’ to Help Kids Who Face Trauma, Even If Schools Are Closed!


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Action Pack Start ‘Handle With Care’ to Support Traumatized Kids, Even When Schools Are Closed 4
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Some kids witness domestic violence or murder. Some see loved ones hurt in accidents.

These kids still have to go to class or carry on while school is out for summer or due to a pandemic. They face a burden of stress and trauma that can interfere with their behavior and grades—and schools often aren’t even aware there’s an issue.

Fortunately, you can still help these kids.

Download the free Salud America!Handle With Care Action Pack.”

The Action Pack helps police, school, and mental healthcare leaders start the Handle with Care program, in which police notify schools when they encounter children at a traumatic scene, so schools can provide support right away. They can virtually support kids if school is out for summer or closed due to a pandemic like the coronavirus COVID-19.


The Action Pack was created by Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of the Salud America! Latino health equity program at UT Health San Antonio. Andrea Darr, of the West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice, which launched Handle With Care, provided support.

“When police come across kids at a scene of domestic violence, drug raid, or accident, they send school districts a simple heads up. They send the child’s name, age, and school, with a simple message to ‘Handle With Care,’” said Darr. No confidential or incident information is shared. “Schools prepare to give trauma-sensitive support and connect those kids and families to mental healthcare services.”

With the Action Pack, you can start Handle With Care in 5 steps:

  1. Start the Conversation for Handle With Care. Use our model emails and talking points to engage decision-makers about the need for Handle With Care. Start the conversation even if school is closed for summer or a pandemic.
  2. Create a Group and a Vision. Use our guide and materials to plan, invite people to, and conduct a virtual community meeting to plan your Handle With Care program.
  3. Create Your Notification Flow. Use the model notification system to create your Handle With Care Notification Flow from police to schools. For example, most use email, text or police dispatch to send notifications with the child’s name, age, school, and a simple message to “Handle With Care” (they share no confidential or police incident info).
  4. Implement Your Handle With Care Program. Use our sample materials to train (in person or virtually) police, school, and mental healthcare personnel to implement Handle With Care.
  5. Promote the Program. Use our model news release and sharable social media materials to raise awareness of your program in your community.

Handle With Care has begun in over 65 U.S. cities, including a pilot in San Antonio.

“We believe our Action Pack will unite police, schools, and mental health leaders to support traumatized students,” Ramirez said. “Even with school closed, Handle With Care can enable traumatized students achieve academically and emotionally at their highest level, while helping prevent future risky behavior and chronic disease.”


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