CHARLESTON, W.Va. — President Donald Trump is expected to soon sign into law the 2018 SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, the comprehensive, bipartisan legislation aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic across the United States on many fronts.
Included in it is funding to support programs that offer trauma-informed care for young people, specifically programs like Handle With Care which got its start in West Virginia and has started to roll out to other states.
“What it does is provide some funding to expand our program nationally,” said Andrea Darr, director of the West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice.
Darr said, under the new law, states will be able to apply for grant funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for expansions of Handle With Care which has three components: (1) notice, (2) trauma-informed school training and (3) school-located therapy.
For notice, law enforcement officers involved in potentially traumatic incidents, including those related to substance use, where children are present but not crime victims or referrals for Child Protective Services, collect names, ages and schools of the kids.
Before the next school day, “There’s a confidential text, fax or e-mail to the principal and all it says is, ‘If you’re getting this notice on little Johnny, they’ve been on the scene of a police incident and might exhibit academic, emotional or behavioral problems. Please handle this child with care,'” Darr explained.
No other details are provided in the notification.
“But that’s enough to help a teacher be proactive instead of reactive,” she said. “We know trauma interferes with that child’s ability to learn and behave appropriately.”
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