April 26, 2018

Kaine, Manchin, Capito Introduce Bipartisan Legislation To Care For Children Impacted By Opioid Abuse

Bristol Virginia Public Schools Superintendent: this bill ‘will equip us to better achieve our vision of enabling all students to thrive’

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the Handle with Care Act to connect children who experience traumatic events, including domestic violence situations, drug raids, overdoses, and more, to school resources that are designed to provide the child with trauma-informed care.

“All too often, traumatic events have a devastating ripple effect across children’s lives. Given the right resources, schools can play a critical support role for kids impacted by trauma and provide them with a safe haven. I’m proud to partner with Senators Manchin and Capito to help ensure students affected by the opioid crisis and other trauma get the resources they need to thrive,” Kaine said.

“Unfortunately, schools are seeing more and more students dealing with trauma outside of the normal school day,” said Dr. Keith Perrigan, Superintendent of Bristol Virginia Public Schools. “Even though we try to keep that in mind in all of our interactions with students, this bill ensures that lines of communication are open between community agencies as we all try to support our most vulnerable students. The Handle with Care Act will equip us to better achieve our vision of enabling all students to thrive, regardless of the obstacles they may face.”

“We are happy to support legislation that makes the Handle with Care initiative a national model for replication. Crittenton Services, Inc., in West Virginia has been a key partner in this initiative and can attest to the difference it makes when schools, law enforcement and their partners work together with a sense of urgency to mitigate the impact of childhood trauma and support healing for children and youth, particularly marginalized girls and young women, across this country,” said Jeannette Pai-Espinosa, President of the National Crittenton Foundation.

“The Handle with Care Act of 2018 is important legislation that will boost coordination between law enforcement and school-level personnel to better support students affected by trauma-related events. We must do all we can to ensure these students receive timely interventions to mitigate the impact of trauma so they can focus on learning,” said Dr. L. Earl Franks, Executive Director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

“Nothing offends a principal more than the loss of human potential. Yet every, day, principals see that potential robbed from their students by an opioid epidemic that devastates their schools and their families. With every student who suffers the trauma of opioid abuse, we lose a bit more of our future. I applaud Senators Manchin, Kaine, and Capito for casting a spotlight on this public health crisis and, more important, for championing legislation to battle it,” said Joann Bartoletti, Executive Director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

The Handle with Care program, which originated in West Virginia, is as simple as law enforcement sending a “Handle with Care” alert to the child’s school. While the school does not receive any information other than the child’s name and the alert, it enables the school to exercise the trauma-informed training provided in coordination with the Handle with Care program. The goal of the program is to promote safe schools, and communities, while ensuring that every child is able to thrive in school even when they face trauma at home. 

The Handle with Care Act would authorize $10 million in federal funding to establish 5-year demonstration grants for states to address the impact of substance use related and other trauma on children and youth in public schools by strengthening or building Handle with Care programs. These programs would:

  1. Develop and share evidence-based or evidence-informed training for trauma informed care and provide that training in schools connected to the program.
  2. Connect students who experience trauma at home to those resources in schools via the “Handle with Care” alert from law enforcement.
  3. Require programs to report on the success of the Handle with Care programs in improving student outcomes.

Endorsed By:            

  • National Association of Secondary School Principals
  • AASA – School Superintendents Association
  • American School Counselor Association
  • National Association for School Psychologists
  • National Education Association
  • The National Crittenton Association
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals
  • American Psychological Association
  • West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice

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