Perrysburg Schools launches ‘Handle with Care’ program

PERRYSBURG — Perrysburg Schools is launching a new initiative, Handle with Care.

The program is a cross-systems, trauma-informed response to adverse childhood experiences, promoting resilience through positive relationships with school staff members and first responders.

The only cost for this program to the school district was for some training and supplies, which were covered by a safety grant, according to a press release from the school district.

The program includes first responder visits, frequent occasions for community first responders to visit local schools for positive interactions with students.

“We have always enjoyed a solid partnership with our first responders, keeping our students’ well-being as a top priority,” said Chris Harper M.A., LPCC-S, LSW, LPSC, assistant director of student services and well-being for Perrysburg Schools. “But we are excited to use HWC to formalize and standardize these practices to ensure all students who may be impacted by adverse childhood experiences receive the support they need.”

Handle with Care programs promote safe and supportive homes, schools and communities that protect children, and help traumatized children heal and thrive. It promotes school-community partnerships aimed at ensuring that children who are exposed to trauma in their home, school or community receive appropriate interventions to help them achieve their greatest potential despite whatever traumatic circumstances they may have endured.

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Perrysburg Schools employees have been trained on the impact of trauma on learning, and are incorporating interventions to mitigate the negative impact of trauma for identified students, including: sending students to the clinic to rest, re-teaching lessons, postponing testing, small group counseling by school counselors and referrals to counseling, social service or advocacy programs.

Handle with Care provides the school district with a “heads up” when a child has been identified at the scene of a traumatic event. Police and other first responders are trained to identify children at the scene, find out where they go to school and send the school/agency a confidential message that simply says: “Handle this student with care” with no other details.

In addition to providing notice, all first responders build positive relationships with students by visiting schools on a regular basis. They visit classrooms, stop by for lunch, attend class parties, school assemblies and simply chat with students to help promote positive relationships and perceptions of officers.