RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — School districts and law enforcement agencies across the Rio Grande Valley are working together to help students in distress through the “Handle with Care” initiative.

School and law enforcement officials said this initiative is an additional layer of support for students.

“When a student experiences a traumatic event it’s very important that we as educators are informed that a child has been through something traumatic,” said Harlingen C.I.S.D.’s Director of Guidance & Counseling, Sylvia Gamboa.

She said students going through traumatic events are being helped through collaborations between school districts and law enforcement.

Gamboa said the initiative launched last school year and allows law enforcement officials to notify schools when a student witnesses a traumatic incident.

“When we communicate with our teachers, we don’t give them the details, we tell them to handle this child with care. So, we understand that means if the child comes to school late or they may fall asleep in class, it may be because they were up all night, or they may be disheveled,” Gamboa said.

She explained the only information provided by law enforcement to the school district is the student’s name, age, and school.

Gamboa said making the campus staff aware of the situation, makes it easier for them to identify resources to assist the student if needed.

The initiative also launched in Brownsville I.S.D. along with several charter schools this school year, according to Brownsville Police Information Officer, Martin Sandoval.

“What we do is we send an email to the school identifying the child and telling them that they just experienced a traumatic event. We send it to their counselors,” said Officer Sandoval.

He said working with schools helps teachers understand the student’s situation and ensure they are successful in school.

Hidalgo County is also joining the initiative in what officials say is a time when it is needed the most.

“It’s been particularly hard on our students, on our youth and they are the future of these communities,” said Hidalgo County Judge’s assistant chief of staff, Hilda Salinas.

Salinas said the idea of using the initiative in Hidalgo County was proposed to the Hildalgo County Mental Health Coalition by Dr. Nancy Razo, a University of Texas Rio Grande Valley representative.

She said, Judge Richard F. Cortez approved the launch and now the county along with schools and law enforcement agencies are working to coordinate the programs across school districts.

“A child that is helped is a win for everybody. A child that receives the necessary support is just a win for this whole community,” said Salinas.

She said the ultimate goal is for every school district and law enforcement agency to work together in the initiative.

Salinas explained the county and its partners will hold a few more meetings to work out the logistics of the program but hope to launch by February of next year or sooner.