Greene County joins Handle With Care

By Darryl McGee - [email protected]

XENIA — Greene County and Greene County Juvenile Court are now members of Ohio’s Handle With Care program.

Handle With Care is a trauma-informed, cross-systems, collaborative program that has a main mission to promote safe and supportive schools, homes and communities that protect children, and communities that help traumatized children heel and thrive.

Every law enforcement agency and school district in Greene County participates in the program and most of Ohio’s 88 counties had started the process of creating Handle With Care programs in their communities as of last May. Greene County joined on January 4.

Joining is not a quick process. County law enforcement and school officials went through four months of intensive training.

“Law enforcement and school officials have been trained with Handle With Care protocol to recognize when children have been exposed to trauma and how and who shall be notified to address these concerns,” Greene County Juvenile Court Magistrate and Court Administrator and Handle With Care Co-Coordinator Amy Lewis said. “The law enforcement agencies all have at least one officer designated as a point of contact for the court and schools and each school district has two designated points of contact for law enforcement to make their Handle With Care referrals.”

Handle With Care was developed in 2012 by the West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice and West Virginia State Police.

The Handle With Care “Notice Process” consists of three steps. First, the child’s name and school district is obtained by a first responder. Then the first responder sends a Handle With Care notice that completed via email, dispatch, or 911. Finally, the school responds as needed.

For the purpose of building relationships, first responders make visits to schools. Those visits create opportunities for connection and resiliency-building according to Handle With Care officials. Visits occur during lunch, recess, gym, story time, holiday parties, assemblies, and special events.

Handle With Care also operates in West Virginia, Texas, Maryland, Delaware, Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

A partnership between Hopewell Health Centers and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services supports Ohio’s program.

By Darryl McGee

[email protected]

Reach Darryl McGee at 937-502-4534

Reach Darryl McGee at 937-502-4534