Handle with Care gains more and more interest every day from around the state of West Virginia and around the country. On April 1, 2015, in response to overwhelming interest and support, The West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice was created at the West Virginia State Police to facilitate the expansion of the Handle with Care Program. Statewide programs including the WV Children’s Justice Task Force, the WV Alliance for Drug Endangered Children, the WV Defending Childhood Initiative/Handle with Care Task Force, and a Child Trafficking Task Force consolidated to assist in the expansion. A Handle with Care Website has been created. The site includes easy access to information, forms, and protocols on the programs. Soon it will have 60 minute webinar on Handle with Care for interested parties to watch at a time convenient to their schedules. www.handlewithcarewv.org
Handle with Care presentations are given to counties upon request once the stakeholders are identified and invited to participate in a stakeholder meeting. These stakeholders include the county school superintendent; the principal or vice principal from all the schools; a nurse, counselor or attendance director from each school; representatives from the county Sheriff’s office, State Police and each municipality; the local mental health provider, the supervisor from CPS, the prosecutor, and the local philanthropic organization. The Center for Children’s Justice compiles the list of stakeholders for each county to use and build on. The Center also provides a sample letter of invitation to use when inviting the stakeholders to the 60 minute HWC presentation. The county picks a date and time when the majority of the stakeholders can participate and coordinates with the Center to schedule the availability of the training staff.
After the stakeholder meeting, the schools and law enforcement decide how they would like to send the notice. Many counties are using an email followed by a text to the individual principle of the schools (and a backup) or the superintendent’s office. The Stakeholders also decide if they would like to pilot the program for a semester or take it county wide.
The Center follows up with training at the schools for all staff including teachers, counselors, nurses, cafeteria staff, and custodial staff and bus drivers. It is very important for all staff to be able to recognize and respond to a children struggling from exposure to trauma.
Counties are asked to keep data on the number of incidents and number of children involved and report quarterly to the Center. They are also asked to meet quarterly to assess procedures, services, numbers of incidents and gaps in services.
HWC Bullying Prevention Program
Handle with Care is expanding to include a bullying prevention program at the “Handle with Care” pilot school in Kanawha County - Mary C. Snow Elementary. Bullying creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, detracts from the safe environment necessary for student learning, and may lead to more serious violence. Law enforcement officers can help stop the spread of fear and violence in our schools by assisting in the implementation of a comprehensive bullying prevention program. Law enforcement officers will be paired up with children exhibiting bullying behavior. The program will enlist the support of school administrators, select and implement a research-based bullying prevention program, be accessible to students and staff and create an anonymous reporting system in your school. Mentors provide growth opportunities, access to new resources, and valuable friendship and understanding, all of which can change how a young person feels about herself, the future, and relationships with peers and school. The HWC Anti-Bullying Campaign is committed to providing a safe, positive learning environment for students.
HWC Youth Challenge
We know when students are supported and have positive relationships with their networks they are less likely to use drugs and more likely to be successful. It’s important that students make healthy choices and get accurate information about drug use and the decisions they make about them. The Handle With Care Youth Challenge will: 1) INFORM your school (and Middle Schools) about the harmful impacts of using marijuana; 2) ENGAGE your school, family, friends and neighbors in being drug free and actively store and dispose of drugs correctly; and 3) EMPOWER your family, friends, and neighbors to share the positive choices and goals they have for their future.