Research shows that exposure to violence and trauma can seriously undermine a child’s ability to learn, form relationships and focus appropriately in the classroom. To support students in Placer County who may have experienced trauma, the Placer County Office of Education (PCOE) is leading a united effort among local agencies to implement the Handle with Care program.

This initiative enhances communication and collaboration between first responders, such as law enforcement, fire fighters, emergency medical responders, schools and community resources. The program is designed to decrease the negative effects on children who are exposed to violence and trauma.

"Children who experience trauma may exhibit or develop academic and behavioral issues in class such as an inability to focus or regulate emotions," said Placer County Superintendent of Schools Gayle Garbolino-Mojica. "Rather than a disciplinary response, educators can provide trauma-informed supports at the moment they are needed."

When a child is exposed to a traumatic incident (i.e. domestic violence, child abuse, death in the family, witness to a crime, loss of home due to a house fire, etc.), a first responder will complete a confidential online form which then sends a notification to the child’s school; no details of the incident are provided.

School staff members and teachers, while observing the child throughout the day, will aim to be especially sensitive to their needs. Provisions for a quiet place to rest, assistance with meeting basic needs, homework/test forgiveness or delay, a visit to the school nurse or counselor, or referral to an outside community resource will be provided as needed.

"Not only is Placer County well regarded for our excellent public education system, but we have a long tradition of collaboration across agencies to support students and families," continued Garbolino-Mojica. "The Handle with Care Program is another layer of that support system - and vital to our entire community."

Program partners include PCOE, Placer County Health & Human Services Department, Resilient Placer Network, law enforcement and local school districts with financial support from Sutter Health. Similar programs have been implemented in both Nevada and Stanislaus counties.

For additional information on the Placer County Handle with Care program, contact PCOE Prevention Supports and Services Executive Director Mike Lombardo at mlombardo@placercoe.org.

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