Cumberland County law enforcement and schools are collaborating to reduce the effects of childhood trauma with the introduction of Cumberland County Youth Trauma Intervention Protocol Program (YouthTIP).
The goal of the program is to provide school personnel with notice that a child has witnessed a traumatic event and to handle that child with care. This partnership between law enforcement and schools will help provide children who have been exposed to traumatic events with a safe and supportive environment in an academic setting. The announcement was made by Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae, along with Executive County Superintendent Leslie White-Coursey, Vineland Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Gruccio, and Vineland Police Department Acting Chief Pedro Casiano.
YouthTip is an iteration of the Handle with Care programs that have been instituted throughout New Jersey after being spearheaded by Middle Township Police Chief Christopher M. Leusner, past president of the New Jersey State Chiefs of Police Association.
Law enforcement officers frequently encounter children who have suffered exposure to traumatic events such as domestic violence or the arrest of a parent for criminal activity. Events like this are known as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) including but not limited to experiencing violence, abuse, neglect, witnessing violence in the home, and/or having a family member attempt or die by suicide. Unaddressed ACEs can lead to poor physical and mental health in adulthood, as well as contribute to truancy, drug use, depression, and suicide among our most vulnerable population.
Health officials explain since a child’s brain is still developing a child may not have the capability to process, regulate and respond to such an experience. As a result, a child will attempt to go about their day and attend school, as if they had not just experienced a conceivably life-altering event. With the YouthTIP program, police personnel will simply notify school officials only that the child is a victim or witness to a traumatic event, which balances privacy interests with the need for school officials to handle the child with special care.
School faculty can assess whether certain actions are appropriate such as excusing an incomplete homework assignment, postponing tests or referring the child to the school counselor in the appropriate circumstances. This simple notice can benefit the child’s well-being and academic success regardless of the traumatic circumstances the child has endured.
The YouthTIP Program is starting with Vineland’s School District and Police Department, with full implementation throughout Cumberland County over the next few months.
To learn more about YouthTIP contact Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office Community Justice Coordinator Matthew Rudd at 856-453-0486.