|RidgewoodHandle With Care Initiative|
RIDGEWOOD HANDLE WITH CARE Background Information "Handle with Care" is a program that started in Charleston, West Virginia in the spring of 2013. It is a joint project with the West Virginia Center for Children' s Justice, Charleston Police Department and school officials from the Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary Schoo l in Charleston, WV. The goal of the initiative is to mitigate the negative affects experienced by children' s exposure to trauma, and to increase knowledge and awareness of this issue. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New Jersey Division and the NY/NJ HIDTA adopted the "Handle with Care" model from West Virginia and in 2016 collaborated with the Newark Police Department and the Newark Board of Education to create the Newark Cares program throughout the Newark public school system. The Newark cares program is a tool for law enforcement and school personnel to assist with mitigating the negative affects experienced by a child 's exposure to a traumatic or critical event , commonly referred to as Adverse Child hood Experiences (ACES). Program Information The purpose of the program is to identify when a child has been expo sed to a traumatic event which may include an arrest, overdose, shooting , death of a family member or any other type of critical incident. When identified , the police department notifies the school by sending a standardized form to a designated point of contact within the school. No specifics or details of the incident are provided, just that the child was exposed to a potentially traumatic event. The notification simply states the name, age and grade/school of the child. No other information is provided. The notification provides the school with the awareness that the child has been involved in a traumatic event and may be exhibiting some stress or trauma as a result of that event. Extensive studies have shown that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) are leading factors which contribute to drug use and abuse, depress ion, truancy and even suicide. By providing schools with this notification, appropriate interaction and inte rventions can be taken early on to address the needs of the child with the proper resources within the school system. Protocol and Procedures When a law enforcement officer in the Village of Ridgewood responds to a scene where they believe a child was exposed to a traumatic even they will fill out the "Ridgewood Handle with Care" notice which has two parts, one for the officer, and one for the school. The responding officer has a responsibility to fill out the top portion of the form, which provides information on the name of the child, their age, grade, school attending (Ridgewood High School, George Washington Middle School, Benjamin Franklin Middle School, Hawes Elementa,y, Orchard Elementary, Ridge Elementwy, Somerville Elementary, Travel! Elementw y, Willard Elementwy, Glen School) and the assigned school resource officer, if applicable. The form is then forwarded to the designated school point of contact for awareness and action. Next Steps The "Ridgewood Handle with Care" program is in phase I of implementation, with the goal of ensuring that each school in Ridgewood is familiar with the program, and knows what to do when they receive a "Ridgewood Handle with Care" notice. At the bottom of the notification , the schoo l adm inistrator will . sign the form acknowledging receipt, and ensuring appropriate action is taken to address the impacted student. After the form is signed, it is requested that the form be returned to the designated email for tracking purposes.