ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There’s a new effort to better look out for kids who have seen or experienced a traumatic event; it’s called “Handle With Care.” A resolution to create the procedure across Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) is set to be introduced to the city council on Monday.
“We just want the city to work in collaboration with APS to create a program that will make sure that our kids aren’t falling through the cracks,” says Renee Grout, the city councilor who sponsored the bill. If passed, the bill would create a partnership between the city and APS to keep an extra eye on kids who may have witnessed a traumatic event.
“When children have something traumatic happen to them at home, sometimes they’ll act up at school and the teachers are just beside themselves sometimes. But there’s a reason why sometimes,” says Grout.
If first responders notice a child at a traumatic scene, like a domestic violence incident, the arrest of a household member, or a medical episode, the agency will send an email to the district with the subject line “Handle With Care” and the child’s name in the email. It would not include details on what happened but would be forwarded to the child’s teacher, principal, and school counselor. Councilor Grout said the program has existed in the past but may have fallen by the way side during the pandemic. She wants it to be in legislation as standard operating procedure.
The details of the program for students outside of APS haven’t been worked out yet, but Grout would eventually like the program to expand across the state. APS said it is on board with the partnership. “We need to be paying more attention to our children and just look out for them more,” said Grout. She hopes for it to pass and be in place by the start of the next school year.
“APS is excited at the opportunity to partner with the Albuquerque Police Department, Albuquerque Fire Rescue, and the Albuquerque Community Safety Department on the ‘Handle With Care’ Program. This partnership will allow us to support and care for students following a traumatic event. When we all work together to care for our students and families, everyone benefits,” says Vicki Price, Senior Director of Counseling at APS in an emailed statement.