Too many children in America face difficult life circumstances everyday, and many of those children’s circumstances are unknown by the adults at their school that could make a difference. Across the nation, law enforcement departments are taking action, teaming up with local schools to help children exposed to trauma and difficulties in life. Three simple words create a path to helping those kids: “Handle With Care.” Cajon Valley Union School District will be partnering with El Cajon Police Department on the Handle With Care initiative that is making a difference in mental health throughout the United States.
The model for Handle With Care (HWC) is straight-forward: First responders, such as police officers or firefighters, will notify the El Cajon Police Department when they respond to a crisis that has impacted a CVUSD student. The Police Department will then pass that information on to school officials who can help support the child. Under the HWC program, first responders and police departments do not give specific details to the school about what may have happened, but they simply pass on the message that a child needs to be “Handled With Care.” This information is provided to the school’s principal, counselors, nurses, and teachers. The message helps school staff identify students that are in emotional distress and need, so when they act out or don’t pay attention in class, the student can be handled with care and sent for a rest in the nurse’s office or discreetly pulled aside for a candid conversation.
Unfortunately, children are often on the scene of overdoses, violence, and other crimes. Witnessing these traumatizing events affects every child differently, but all too often the child begins to suffer in school. Handle With Care programs promote safe and supportive homes, schools and communities that protect children, and help traumatized children heal and thrive. This initiative coincides with Cajon Valley Union School District’s ideals of meeting the needs of the whole child. Grateful for this opportunity to help his students achieve their best, CVUSD Superintendent David Miyashiro said “We are looking forward to learning more and collaborating with [ECPD] on this program. The goal of implementing this program in partnership with the El Cajon Police Department is to provide the help needed for students to thrive despite and in spite of the traumatic circumstances. The relationships our schools, staff, and students have with our local heroes and first responders from Heartland Fire & Rescue, San Diego Sherrifs, and the El Cajon Police Department are an investment in the well-being of our entire community. We can’t thank them enough!”
The HWC program began in 2013 in Charleston, West Virginia as a response to the city’s drug epidemic, which primarily consisted of opioid abuse and addiction. Since that time, the program has grown throughout West Virginia and has been adopted by a number of states and cities, including Maryland, Texas, Illinois, and now California. For more information on the original Handle With Care pilot program, please visit http://www.handlewithcarewv.org/.
About Cajon Valley Union School District
Named a 2019 Top Workplace in San Diego, Cajon Valley Union School District focuses on the positivity of each student’s unique strengths, interests, and values. Serving over 60 square miles of San Diego’s East County, Cajon Valley Union School District offers personalized education, with programs that develop students into happy kids, healthy relationships, on a path to gainful employment; making El Cajon the best place to live, work, play and raise a family. Visit the district at www.cajonvalley.net, and don’t forget to follow CVUSD on Twitter,Facebook,Youtube, and Instagram.