Albuquerque city councilor hopes to revive ‘Handle With Care’ program
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The new “Handle With Care” effort is aimed at helping kids with trauma and offers a way for first responders to alert school officials if they suspect a child needs help.
New Mexico had the highest rate of kids suffering from adverse childhood experiences, according to a 2022 CDC report. This can include abuse, neglect, a parent’s death, or extreme poverty.
“It’s a no-brainer. We need to be looking out for our kids,” Albuquerque City Councilor Renee Grout said.
The report also shows that New Mexico children are among the 67% of New Mexicans who have experienced trauma at some point in their lives.
In New Mexico, the most common types of trauma are:
- Emotional and physical abuse
- Mental illness
- Sexual abuse
“Trauma affects all of us differently and so we just need to be on the lookout for these kids and be more mindful of it,” Grout said.
That’s why Grout is co-sponsoring a resolution to bring back the “Handle with Care” program with Albuquerque Public Schools. Think of it as a hotline between first responders and school officials.
Here’s how it works:
“Our first responders will send to APS police, an email that says in the subject line, handle with care, it will have the child’s name, and their date or their age, and that’s it,” Grout said.
Grout says the program was in place back in 2017. Then, she said it fell by the wayside during the pandemic.
The resolution calls for a memorandum of understanding between the city and the school district. They want to recognize kids experiencing trauma and hopefully keep them from dropping out of school and away from committing crimes.
“Handle With Care is a national program and I think it’s one of the best national programs in our country,” Grout said.
If passed, the plan is to have the program in place by the next school year. The effort is on the agenda for the Albuquerque City Council’s Monday night meeting.