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Three simple words: Handle with care. These words are at the heart of a new program being piloted at 28 schools in San Antonio ISD between January and May 2019.
Details are provided below. For more information, please call SAISD Student Support Services at (210) 438-6815.
What is the Handle with Care pilot program?
Handle with Care is a partnership aimed at helping students be successful in school despite traumatic circumstances they may have endured. The program, which originated in West Virginia and has been adopted in many states, will launch locally as a pilot program this spring in the SAPD East Patrol Unit - in partnership with SAISD, North East ISD and East Central ISD.
The SAPD East Patrol Unit includes 28 schools in SAISD, with additional schools in NEISD and ECISD.
How will the program work?
When SAPD police officers are at a scene, and are aware of a child who may be affected or stressed by the incident, they will send a confidential email notification to SAISD Student Support Services (and to SAISD Police Dispatch if it is after hours) with the three simple words “Handle with care” and the child’s name and age – and that will then be passed on to the school principal, assistant principal and counselor. That’s it. No other details will be shared. The privacy of the child and the child’s family will be protected.
Once a campus is notified, no questions will be asked. Those three simple words let the school know that the student has been exposed to a traumatic event that may have an effect on his or her mood and behavior and that the student should be handled with compassion and care. That student’s teacher(s) will be alerted to be especially attentive to the child’s needs and sensitive to the fact that circumstances (unknown to school teachers and staff) have occurred or are happening outside of school.
Why is the program needed?
Sometimes children need additional support when they are handling difficult life circumstances, such as the death of a family member, violence in the neighborhood or loss of possessions after a house fire. When children are vulnerable after life-changing incidents like these, they may act differently in school. Handle with Care may help ease some of the pain while the child is in the care of teachers and staff on campus. The ultimate goal is to help students succeed in school.
What all information is shared by the police to the school?
No reports or any details of the incident are shared – only the name and age of the child and the words “Handle with care.”
How did this pilot program come about?
The Handle with Care program, which is in place in a number of states, was brought to SAPD’s attention by SAISD’s Student Support Services, and the decision was made to launch a pilot program.
How were the schools chosen to be in the pilot?
SAPD chose one Patrol Unit to start the pilot and chose the SAPD East Patrol Unit, which serves not only a large number of SAISD schools but also two additional school districts.
Will other SAISD schools participate in the program?
At this time, only the schools listed above fall within SAISD’s participation in SAPD’s pilot program. After the pilot is complete, the program will be reviewed and expansion will be considered.
Can a parent call and request Crisis Counseling Support (e.g., parent deceased, domestic violence, etc.) for their child, even if SAPD is not involved in the initial incident?
Yes, our trained school counselors work simultaneously with administrators to ensure the emotional safety and wellbeing of the entire student body.
Will campus staff be trained on how to deal with trauma?
Facilitated by Student Support Services, SAISD campus staff will be trained on best practices surrounding Trauma Informed Care. The District has two Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Master Trainers to provide campus trainings on demand: Estella Garza, LMSW and Elizabeth Rios, LSSP. Our partner, UT Health San Antonio, will provide online trauma informed care e-modules. District professional development opportunities also will provide offerings.
San Antonio ISD schools included in the pilot are:
Early Childhood Education Centers
Carroll Early Childhood Education Center
Tynan Early Childhood Education Center
Highland Hills Elementary
Highland Park Elementary
Stewart Elementary (Democracy Prep)
M. L. King Academy
Steele Montessori Academy
Young Men’s Leadership Academy
Davis Middle School
Poe Middle School
Rogers Middle School
Highlands High School
Sam Houston High School