St. Mary’s; Charles among those implementing ” “Handle with Care”

Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention Leads First Training Workshops on Youth Intervention, Victim Services Initiative

News Release, Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention led a series of training workshops for Maryland this week on a new youth intervention and victim services initiative. Statewide Handle with Care Coordinator, Kelly Gorman, trained approximately 200 law enforcement officers, teachers, and mental health providers during the 24th annual Baltimore County Safe Schools Conference in Baltimore, Md., and the Coalition for Juvenile Justice Conference in Washington, D.C. In 2018, Governor Larry Hogan announced the Handle With Care program would be implemented across Maryland.

“Governor Hogan has prioritized, through the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, developing initiatives and supporting programs designed to reduce the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences on Maryland’s young people,” said Glenn Fueston, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention. “We are aware, through research, that experiencing trauma can have long-lasting effects on children well into adulthood; this can impact their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.”

Handle With Care is designed to address Adverse Childhood Experiences through coordinated, trauma-sensitive practices. First responders can send notices to schools after encountering a child at the scene of a traumatic event, and that information goes to trusted adults who extend support to the child should any signs of trauma or uncharacteristic behavior arise. Children are then referred, with permission from a parent or guardian, to a mental health provider, if necessary.

Gorman, along with Chief of Juvenile Justice and Prevention Services, Jessica Wheeler, led workshops focusing on improving outcomes for all young people in and out of the classroom, emphasizing the need for trauma-informed approaches in schools and detailing how Handle with Care notices work at the annual Coalition for Juvenile Justice Conference. Wheeler, who also serves as the National Juvenile Justice Specialist on the board of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, explained the various roles within the program and how collaborative efforts can make a difference for children who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. These events could range from a search warrant or drug raid of a home, to a domestic violence situation, shooting, or arrest of a parent.

“The beauty of the Handle With Care program is that the steps taken by law enforcement and teachers are very simple,” said Gorman. “But the best part is, these simple steps can make a big difference in the lives of children touched by situations that they should not have to face. Handle with Care is a positive way to connect children with resources they need to stay on track both in and out of the classroom.”

Handle With Care began in West Virginia in response to the opioid crisis and has been implemented in 11 counties in Maryland since 2018 including: Anne Arundel, Carroll, Cecil, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, St. Mary’s, Washington, and Wicomico counties.

Baltimore City, Baltimore, Caroline, Charles, Queen Anne’s, and Somerset counties are set to pilot in the fall. More training will be provided during the inaugural Handle With Care Summit on July 31.

To learn more about Handle with Care Maryland and to view a recently released dashboard tracking the initiative’s progress and impact, visit: https://handlewithcaremd.org/.