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Wheatland Sun

PCOE'S "Handle With Care" Program Wins State and National Innovation Awards

Sep 29, 2022 12:00AM ● By Placer County Office of Education News Release

PCOE Prevention Supports & Services Executive Director Mike Lombardo and Placer County Superintendent of Schools Gayle Garbolino-Mojica (middle) with California County Superintendents President Dr. Debra Duardo and Region 3 Chair Dr. Ed Manansala. Photo courtesy Placer County Office of Education

AUBURN, CA (MPG) – The Handle with Care Program - a multi-agency collaboration between the Placer County Office of Education (PCOE), school districts and first responders to support students who have experienced trauma - earned state and national honors by receiving the Brian L. Talbot Award from the California County Superintendents and the Association of Educational Services Agencies (AESA). The award, at both levels, acknowledges an individual or agency for contribution in the area of technological innovation and support to local districts and educational service agencies.

The Handle with Care Program was launched in 2021 as an effort to enhance communication and collaboration between first responders, such as law enforcement or emergency medical responders, and schools to decrease the negative effects on children who are exposed to violence and trauma.

"Not only is Placer County well regarded for our excellent public education system, but we have a long tradition of collaboration across agencies to support students and families," said Placer County Superintendent of Schools Gayle Garbolino-Mojica. "This award recognizes and honors that collaboration."

Here is how the program works: When a child is exposed to a traumatic incident, a first responder will complete a confidential online form which then sends a notification to the child’s school; no details of the incident are provided. School staff members and teachers, while observing the child throughout the day, will aim to be especially sensitive to their needs. Provisions for a quiet place to rest, assistance with meeting basic needs, homework/test forgiveness or delay, a visit to the school nurse or counselor, or referral to an outside community resource will be provided as needed.

"The Handle with Care Program has allowed us to provide a more complete initial network of care to families in crisis from loss and trauma," shared Auburn Chief of Police Ryan Kinnan. "By using Handle with Care our officers can now know there will be someone to help children with the consequences of trauma and adverse events. Ultimately this helps us reach our goal to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable members of our community."

"The reporting process is simple, confidential and effective. Since its inception, Placer County Law Enforcement Chaplaincy, Inc. (PCLEC) chaplains have referred countless children on the Handle with Care website," shared PCLEC Senior Chaplain Mike Boon. "I personally was able to work alongside school caregivers when a tragedy impacted four siblings and their classmates. And that is just one example demonstrating the effectiveness of both the technology and the follow-up care that the Handle with Care Program enables."

Program partners include PCOE, Placer County Health & Human Services Department, Resilient Placer Network, law enforcement and local school districts with financial support from Sutter Health. Learn more about the Handle with Care Program.

For additional information on the Placer County Handle with Care program, contact PCOE Prevention Supports and Services Executive Director Mike Lombardo at [email protected]

About Placer County Office of Education
Nestled in the Sierra Foothills, Placer County Office of Education (PCOE) serves more than 70,000 students in sixteen individual school districts across Placer County. In order to serve the students of Placer County, PCOE provides an array of programs and service to meet student needs. This task is accomplished by providing high-quality specialized programs for students; recruiting, retaining and developing highly qualified staff; and monitoring fiscal accountability and expenditures of our tax dollars. For more information, please visit