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ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Children and Youth Division of the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services hosted educators, first responders, and mental health providers virtually, for the 2020 Maryland Child Well-being Conference. The conference focused on innovative approaches to address the short-term and long-term effects of trauma, as well as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which research indicates a correlation with negative health and behavioral outcomes. During the conference, Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford commended the more than 200 attendees on their commitment to providing support to young people in Maryland as they cope with the disruption caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The support you are providing to children is critical, and speaks volumes about your dedication to their safety, and well-being,” said Lt. Governor Rutherford. “I wish you all a productive conference and I thank you all for your hard work on behalf of Maryland children and families.”

The Children and Youth Division of the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services focuses on improving the well-being of children, youth, and families in Maryland through: increasing trauma-informed services and preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs); reducing the impact of parental incarceration on children, youth, families, and communities; reducing youth homelessness; improving outcomes for disconnected and opportunity youth; reducing childhood hunger; increasing opportunities for diversion from the juvenile justice system; and addressing improvements to the juvenile justice system in Maryland.

During the conference, presenters discussed identifying and reporting child abuse during COVID-19, preventing internet crimes against children, the impact of domestic violence on children and the family, and addressing vicarious trauma.

“Adverse Childhood Experiences and trauma can have a profound impact on young people throughout their lives,” said Executive Director Glenn Fueston, of the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services “We want to equip as many adults as we can with the knowledge of trauma-informed responses, so that they can support children and reduce the barriers preventing children from achieving their full potential.”

In addition, Andrea Darr, founder of the Handle with Care program in West Virginia, and Director of the West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice within the West Virginia State Police shared lessons learned during the pandemic, as well as best practices for implementing Handle with Care. In February 2018, Governor Larry Hogan announced that Maryland would adopt the program and implement the practice statewide. Currently, 16 jurisdictions have adopted the program, and the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services is working to have Handle with Care Maryland in all 24 public school systems by the end of 2021. The Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office, which adopted Handle with Care in 2018, demonstrated its Handle with Care application that features tools and resources for law enforcement officers, including automated Handle with Care notifications.

The Maryland Child Well-Being Conference was recorded for those who could not attend in real-time. Recordings can be found on YouTube here: September 23 and September 24.

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