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


You care about supporting kids who suffer trauma (even when school is out for summer or COVID-19) … and this Action Pack can help you!

Handle With Care SAPDOur team at Salud America!, led by Dr. Amelie Ramirez of UT Health San Antonio, is excited you’re taking this big step to start a “Handle With Care” program in your area.

Handle with Care enables police to notify schools when they encounter children at a traumatic scene, so schools can provide support right away, even if support is virtual while schools are closed for summer or a pandemic.

This Action Pack, built with help from Andrea Darr of the West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice, has 5 steps to help you start Handle With Care from starting the conversation, to crafting a notification system and program, to sharing your results!

Before You Start…

Check out these customizable materials:

💬 Handle With Care: FAQs. What is it? Why do we need it? How can we start it? Etc.

📔 Bilingual Fact Sheet (English | Spanish). Share about Handle With Care.

📔 Bilingual Flow Chart (English | Spanish) Learn about Handle With Care.

📔 PowerPoint. Present about Handle With Care.

📰 Case Study. Read/watch how San Antonio started its Handle With Care program in April 2019.

📰 Case Study: Adapting for School Closure. Read how San Antonio adapted its Handle With Care program amid the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.

📰 Video. Watch an overview of Handle With Care.

📣 Technical Assistance. Email Amanda Merck,, your Action Pack coach, for help.

Step 1: Start the Conversation

start conversation with kidsUse our model emails & talking points to engage decision-makers about the need for Handle With Care, even if school is out for summer or closed due to a pandemic.

📨 Email School / Police / Mental Health Leaders (Word or PDF)

🗣 Talking points (PDF)

📔 Fact Sheet (PDF). Share about Handle With Care.

📔 Flow Chart (PDF). Learn about Handle With Care.

Step 2: Create a Group & Vision

hwc mother quoteUse our model materials to plan, invite people to, and conduct a virtual community meeting to build support for and plan your Handle With Care program.

📨 Invite Stakeholders (Word or PDF)

📰 Promote the Meeting (Word or PDF)

📔 Conduct the Meeting & Form a Group with our Guide:

Guide: Start a Meeting and group!

Step 3: Create Your Notification Flow

Handle With Care text, email or dispatchUse the model notification system to create your Handle With Care Notification Flow from police to schools.

🗒 Template: MOU for Police & Schools (Word)

🗒 Template: MOU for Schools & Mental Health Providers (Word)

🗒 Template: Handle With Care Notification Form (Word)

📔 How Police Send the Notification (PDF)

📔 How Schools Get and Triage the Notification (PDF)

Step 4: Implement Your Handle With Care Program (with Training)

Use our sample materials to train police, school, and mental healthcare personnel to implement Handle With Care.

📔 Get the Model Training Guide and PPT Presentation:

Guide: training!

Step 5: Promote the Program

Use our model news release and sharable social media materials to raise awareness of your program across your community.

Handle With Care police schools trauma 3📰 Model News Release (Word or PDF)

📰 Model Social Media Messages (Word or PDF)

📰 Model Social Graphics 1, 2, 3

Get Help Anytime!

Contact Amanda Merck,, your Action Pack coach at Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio, for help or questions.

Amanda is in close contact with Andrea Darr of the West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice, which launched Handle With Care in 2013, and Diana Centeno, a school administrator who helped start Handle With Care in San Antonio in 2019 (and adapted it due to coronavirus in March 2020).

And at the end of your efforts, we will promote your progress on our national website among our other Salud Heroes!

And you don’t have to stop here, either.

See Question No. 17 in the FAQ to see how you can promote trauma-sensitive efforts beyond Handle With Care!