The entire law enforcement community, every school district, fire department and EMS in Ionia County are now part of a program called Handle With Care.
Starting today, children and youth in the county will be “handled with care” in their schools if the child is present at a distressing event that requires intervention from local law enforcement officers and personnel, according to the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office.
Handle With Care provides the school with a “heads up” when a child has been at the scene of a traumatic event such as a house fire, a domestic violence situation, a shooting, an arrest of a family member, a drug raid or a motor vehicle accident, the sheriff’s release said.
Police officers will look around for children when they are on scene and get their name and where they go to school. Before school starts the next day, they will make sure the school is sent a note that simply says to handle that particular child with care.
“Our children experience traumatic events in their lives and then have to report to school the next day and perform as though nothing happened,” said Sheriff Dale Miller. “The Handle With Care” program supports the child and schools in protecting their students and helping them be successful in the midst of the everyday chaos and trauma that so many of us experience.”
The program is designed to help children struggling with the effects of trauma by allowing their teachers just that bit of insight into the child’s previous day to be able to better address issues in the classroom and provide needed support for students experiencing trauma.
If the child needs more extensive help in working through what they saw happen, the school will work with the parents to provide a trauma informed response by counselors, social workers and local mental health providers onsite at the school. //
Michigan State Police Lakeview Post Lieutenant Robert Davis:
“This program helps bridge a gap between what’s happening in a child’s home life and their time at school, and will give educators context when dealing with behavioral issues.”
Director of Special Education at Ionia Intermediate School District Cindi Geiger: “Nationally, research shows that approximately 60 to 70 percent of our children experience a traumatic event. Of those, 40 to 50 percent are direct victims of two or more acts of violence.
“These traumatic events may result in mild to significant social, emotional, behavioral and learning difficulties. By partnering together to bring awareness when events occur, we will be more proactive in supporting these children and creating better outcomes now and throughout their life span."
Lake Odessa Police Sergeant Brent Listerman: “The Handle With Care Program will guide public safety staff in helping school faculty better understand the behaviors they’ve already detected in their student. This program will be monumental in leading our children to success by ensuring their needs are being met.”
Sheriff Miller: “Handle with Care is a great opportunity to work together to help Ionia County children be safe and achieve success in school at their highest levels despite any traumatic circumstances they may be experiencing.”