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Handle With Care

Collaborative of the North Central & North Quabbin Region

Emergency Department Trauma Informed Care Initiative

Heywood Healthcares Handle With Care Emergency Department trauma informed care initiative.

We are 1 of 6 non-profit organizations in Massachusetts, chosen to participate in The Center for Child Wellbeing and Trauma's 2023 inaugural "Coaching Academy for Resilience and Trauma".

View the Handle With Care Responder Team Presentation Here

Handle With Care (HWC) is a school-community response to help ensure that children exposed to trauma in their home, school, or community receive appropriate support to help them achieve emotionally and academically.

Before HWC First responders would file a mandated report for children that met the reporting criteria. If children did not meet the victimization criteria, they were not identified or provided additional services.

Now with HWC Intervention:
  • All children at the scene are identified.
  • The school is provided a HWC notification.
  • Trauma informed practices are heightened at the school.
  • Flagged student(s) are simply handled with care.

If a law enforcement officer encounters a child during a call, that child’s name and three words, HANDLE WITH CARE, are forwarded to the school before the next day. The school implements individual, class, and whole school trauma-sensitive curricula so that identified children are “Handled With Care”. If a child needs more intervention, on-site mental healthcare is available at the school.

  • Improved cross-agency communication among first responder organizations and schools can help increase supports for students experiencing trauma.
  • Increased training and use of trauma sensitive strategies by educators and school leaders will improve educational & life outcomes for students experiencing trauma resulting from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
School is a respectful and safe environment where children can build positive relationships with adults & peers, learn to manage their emotions, behavioral responses, and find academic success.

Handle With Care Notice

  • It is only 3 words: Handle With Care.
  • No details are ever given.
  • It does not violate confidentiality, no details are ever given.
  • Notice arrives to school before the next day.
  • Need to know basis, only.
  • Does not stay in child’s permanent record.
  • May include other childcare service agencies.
  • Does not set expectation for school staff to approach the student.
  • Only heightens whole-school approach around Trauma Informed Care (TIC) protocols.

HWC Collaborative Partners of North Central & North Quabbin MA:

  • Ashburnham-Westminster School District
  • Ashburnham Police Department
  • Athol Area YMCA
  • Athol Police Department
  • Athol-Royalston School District
  • Barre Police Department
  • Boys & Girls Club - Gardner, Leominster/Fitchburg
  • CAPS Collaborative (Ashburnham, Orange, Westminster)
  • Clinical Support & Options
  • Gardner Police Department
  • Gardner Public Schools
  • Heywood Healthcare
  • Holy Family Academy
  • Mahar Regional School District
  • MOC Early Education 
  • Montachusett Suicide Prevention Task Force
  • Mount Wachusett Community College
  • Narragansett Regional School District
  • North Brookfield Police Department
  • North Brookfield School District
  • North Quabbin Community Coalition
  • Northwestern County District Attorney, David E. Sullivan's Office
  • Parent Professional Advocacy League 
  • Petersham Police Department
  • Phillipston Police Department
  • Quabbin Regional School District
  • Royalston Police Department
  • Templeton Police Department
  • Orange Police Department
  • Westminster Police Department
  • Winchendon Police Department
  • Winchendon Public Schools
  • Worcester County District Attorney, Joseph Early’s Office

For additional information contact HWC’s Collaborative Liaison:
Renee' Eldredge at [email protected]
Program Leads: Gardner Police Department Deputy Chief Nicholas Maroni and Lt. John Czasnowski / Heywood Hospital, Selena Johnson, Director of Community Investment and Renee Eldredge, HWC Asst. Program Manager  

HWC Collaborative Partnership of North Central & North Quabbin MA Resource Links:

Activity ACEs Presentation

Adverse Childhood Experience Children's Presentation

Adverse Childhood Experience Teen Presentation

Clinical Support & Options Emergency Services for Athol and Gardner

Free ACEs Training

Handle With Care Kit

Handle With Care MA 

North Quabbin Community Coalition

Parent Professional Advocacy League

Training Active Bystander

Trauma Sensitive Schools - Resources / Videos

Trauma Informed Organizational Assessment

Trauma Tuesday: Nervous System Response to Trauma & Handle With Care

Worcester County Drug Endangered Children's Program

2023 HWC First Responder Initiative Overview