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Handle with Care

OCH is excited to share recent successes from the Handle with Care (HWC) program in Clallam County. This project embodies the mission of OCH, tackling health issues no single sector or Tribe can tackle alone.

HWC originated in West Virginia in 2013 and was adapted first into Kitsap County and then later into Clallam County a few years back. The planning and ongoing convening for the Clallam Handle with Care team has been supported by the Clallam Resilience Project within the United Way of Clallam County. Handle With Care is a national initiative to employ trauma informed practices for children, schools, and first responders. The intent of the Clallam HWC team is:

  • to support youth in their education and social success,

  • have trauma informed awareness and care for professionals to support youth’s academic and personal well-being following traumatic events,

  • and strengthen collaborations among partners to enable system change that promotes better community.

The need for this program is vital as 60% of U.S. children have been exposed to violence, crime, or abuse (Source: US Department of Justice). HWC implementation is currently underway in four school districts in Clallam County with participation by numerous community partners including:

  • Port Angeles School District

  • Sequim School District

  • Quillayute Valley School District

  • Crescent School District

  • Clallam County Sheriff’s Office

  • Port Angeles Police Department

  • Sequim Police Department

  • Forks Police Department

  • Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe Police Deptartment

  • Hoh Tribe Police Department

  • La Push Police Department

  • Port Angeles Fire Department

  • Clallam Fire District # 1 (Forks & Beaver)

  • Clallam Fire District # 4 (Joyce)

Since its inception, over 80 notifications have been sent in the 2022-2023 school year.

Port Angeles School District Middle School teacher, Jerry Papers explained the in-class benefits of Handle with Care,

“I run a very routine-based classroom with clear, consistent behavior expectations to help students do the best work they can and improve themselves. When emails started to be sent out letting teachers know to 'Handle With Care' certain students, it was extremely helpful for me to know a student did not need the extra 're-direction' that day - avoiding an unpleasant experience for all of us if the help I offered was received in the wrong way. I would also work harder to find a way to praise the student to help their self-esteem during a difficult time. Having that type of insight was quick, discreet, and invaluable in helping students and educators experience a healthier and supportive environment.

As a result of the program's success, Handle with Care has been exploring ways to elevate this initiative to the next level. In September of 2022, OCH released the Expanding the Table Funding Opportunity which allowed for Clallam Resilience Project to investigate adopting a HWC app. The intent is to streamline communication which can be accessed via first responders’ cell phones and will improve both frequency and timeliness of HWC notifications. OCH is looking forward to the expansion of this project and what is to come.

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