OAKWOOD, Ohio (WDTN) – School districts in the Montgomery County are stepping in with extra support for children who have experienced traumatic events.
Oakwood City School District is the fourth district in Montgomery County to launch their “Handle With Care” program. All teachers and staff in the district have gone through extensive training to learn how to help kids going through a tough time.
“Those stressors that they’re feeling, whether it be in the home or whether it be out in their community, that’s just added emotional baggage,” Oakwood City Schools Interim Superintendent Allyson Couch said. “If we can support that and even help remove that that baggage for the whole family and for the child, if we can support them through that, then it just makes academics turn into the priority.”
The district is launching the program alongside Oakwood Public Safety and the Montgomery County Educational Service center. It’s funding through grants provided by Montgomery County ADAMHS.
“Kids are out and about for the majority of the day, and having first responders have this training to be able to say, if there is a difficult moment, let’s let the school know who really gets to take care of our kids for the majority of their day,” Montgomery County Educational Service Center Prevention Educator Emily Mongelli said.
If a child is in a car crash, fire, domestic violence situation or experiences other traumatic events, first responders on scene are trained to identify the child and where they go to school.
Then, the responders give the child’s district a heads up. Teachers and school staff will get a notification stating the student needs to be handled with care. No additional information about what happened will be provided.
“We don’t need to know the details, we just need to know that we need to support the student through their academic and social emotional needs,” Couch said.
Handle With Care is a statewide initiative through the Ohio School Safety Center and Hopewell Health Centers.
Alongside Oakwood, Mad River, Vandalia-Butler, Valley View, and school districts in Greene County have already launched this program.
Seven other districts in Montgomery County are training to launch within the next year. Each school will have
Mongelli said supporting kids early on can lead to them making better choices later in life.
“It allows us to look at big picture of wanting to support these young people so that they can learn the appropriate coping mechanisms so that they can live a long and healthy life,” Mongelli said.
If a student shows signs of needing support educators can’t provide, then they can be referred to a school counselor or mental health services through ADAMHS.