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Handle With Care active in all K-12 schools in Seneca County




Representatives of Fostoria Fire Division, Fostoria Police Department and the city of Fostoria visit with students at Fostoria Elementary School in January. (Contributed Photo)

Tiffin, Ohio — Seneca County Family and Children First Council’s initiative, Handle With Care, has now been implemented in all K-12 schools in Seneca County.

The program, which aims to prevent secondary trauma and foster positive encounters between first-responders and children, involves notifying a child’s school when a first-responder encounters them in a traumatic situation. The school is informed to handle the child with care, without any details of the incident being shared.

Seneca County was the first county in Ohio north of Columbus to launch Handle With Care in March 2021. Since then, all first-responders and school staff have been trained, and the program has been fully implemented in all school districts in the county.

Deputy Jeff McCoy of Seneca County Sheriff’s Office visits Old Fort Elementary School in November. (Contributed Photo)

Sharon George, director of Seneca County Family and Children First Council, expressed her gratitude to the schools and first-responders for their commitment and collaboration towards this program. She also thanked Jill Gosche, who coordinated the program and provided training and advocacy. The council looks forward to continued collaboration with community partners to reduce secondary trauma in children.

Handle With Care Week in Seneca County will be observed from May 7 to May 13. The kickoff event will be a free Handle With Care community kickball game, which will include first-responders, school personnel, and youth. The game is set for May 7 at Meadowbrook Park in Bascom. A ceremony will kick-off the game, and Adrea Schindler, 7, will be honored for her winning Handle With Care T-shirt design. The game will start at 2 p.m., and activities, including food for purchase from Not Your Mama’s Grilled Cheese food truck, will begin at 1 p.m. Some seating will be available, but attendees are encouraged to bring chairs. The Tiffin Crawl, under the leadership of Steve and Kathee Bruno, is helping to make the game possible.

Active Handle With Care schools include Bridges Preparatory Academy, Calvert Catholic Schools, Fostoria City Schools, Hopewell-Loudon Schools, North Central Academy, New Riegel Schools, Old Fort Schools, Seneca East Schools, Sentinel Career and Technology Center, and Tiffin City Schools.

Representatives of Bascom EMS, Bascom Joint Fire District, Seneca County Sheriff’s Office and Seneca County Family and Children First Council visit Hopewell-Loudon Schools in December. (Contributed Photo)

First-responder departments that have been trained include Attica-Venice-Reed Fire District, Bascom EMS, Bascom Joint Fire District, Clinton Township Volunteer Fire Department, Seneca County Community Emergency Response Team, Fostoria Fire Division, Fostoria Police Department, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Scipio-Republic Fire Department, Seneca County Sheriff’s Office, Tiffin Fire Rescue Division, and Tiffin Police Department.

Seneca County Firefighter’s Association, Seneca County Youth Center, and Seneca County Juvenile and Probate Court have also been trained in Handle With Care.

Since the program’s launch, about 60 notifications have been entered, and first-responder visits have occurred at Bridges Preparatory Academy, Fostoria City Schools, Hopewell-Loudon Schools, Old Fort Schools, and Tiffin City Schools.

For more information, visit this link.

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