Law Enforcement, Schools Collaborate to Address Childhood Trauma

News Release, Office of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan

ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan, along with the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP), today announced the expansion of the Handle With Care initiative into 11 counties statewide, the release of a public, interactive data dashboard detailing outcomes across Maryland, and information regarding the first ever Handle With Care Summit to be held later this summer. Handle With Care is a new model adopted in Maryland by Governor Hogan, which encourages law enforcement and school systems to collaborate using a discrete, trauma-informed approach to address Adverse Childhood Experiences. This initiative seeks to prevent future victimization of children, and/or negative behaviors that could result from exposure to traumatic experiences.

“The quick adoption of Handle With Care in counties throughout Maryland shows the strong commitment of our law enforcement officers and school systems to collaborate as we seek to promote the well-being of Maryland’s young people,” said Governor Hogan. “Our goal is for every county in Maryland to adopt this innovative program so we can better identify the needs of our school-aged children exposed to trauma, and utilize the data collected to evaluate how we can best allocate resources to help.”

In 2018, Governor Hogan directed that Maryland would implement Handle With Care statewide. Through its Handle With Care Coordinator, GOCCP has expanded the program in 11 counties in Maryland to include: Anne Arundel, Carroll, Cecil, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, St. Mary’s, Washington, and Wicomico Counties. The following jurisdictions are in development: Baltimore City, as well as Baltimore, Caroline, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Queen Anne’s, and Somerset Counties.

“Governor Hogan has prioritized developing comprehensive initiatives and supporting programs designed to reduce the impact of trauma on Maryland’s young people and our office is committed to fulfilling this mission,” said Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention Executive Director, Glenn Fueston. “This initiative is another example of our multidisciplinary efforts to appropriately identify young people exposed to traumatic events that could impact their performance in the classroom, and provide them with the support and resources they need to succeed.”

Also launching today, a new Handle With Care dashboard, created with Microsoft’s Power BI software, allows users to view the number of notices issued by law enforcement and first responders to public school systems, the number of participating schools, and the number of students included in those notices. The data from the dashboard initiative will help inform decision-making for effective crime prevention and victim services efforts, especially for Maryland children impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences.

“The Handle With Care dashboard is part of Governor Hogan’s plan to make data more available to the people of Maryland and his commitment to supporting Maryland children exposed to trauma,” said Executive Director Fueston. “Our efforts to expand this initiativethroughout Maryland takes another exciting step in July with our first Handle With Care Summit, open to educators, law enforcement, and mental health professionals from across the state.”   

School systems and law enforcement participating in this initiative will convene for the first-ever Handle With Care Summit on July 31 in Crownsville, Md., where they will share best practices and receive first-hand training on Adverse Childhood Experiences and trauma-informed approaches within schools.

Ongoing training is available to school staff and law enforcement on how to implement the program and the purpose of a Handle With Carenotice, which alerts trusted adults at a child’s school that they have been exposed to 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.

Handle With Care began in West Virginia as a way to help children affected by the opioid crisis. Upon hearing of the program’s success, Washington County in Maryland began piloting the program in 2017. To learn more about Handle With Care Maryland and view the dashboard, visit:

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/EditorEditor-in-Chief

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...