JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS)—Zoe Lyons believes that when kids are at their lowest that’s when you need to be there the most.

“When we have that relationship and that trust things are going to be much better for the entire community,” said Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in Jackson, Zoe Lyons.

That’s why she started the ‘Handle with Care’ model here in Michigan. It’s a multi-step process to be there for kids when police are called to their homes for any incident, and it starts as soon as officers arrives on scene.

“Law enforcement finds the child’s name and where they go to school and they send a notice to the school before the school starts the next day that says handle with care and the child’s name,” said Lyons.

The child’s teachers are given a heads up. Students are also provided with the resources they need on-site. This includes free support from school counselors and from mental health experts in the community like Bob Powell and his staff at Family Service and Children’s Aid in Jackson. It’s an all-hands-on-deck approach to helping kids cope with what is going on at home. 

“Outside additional support is extremely important because they may not have the support that they need in their family and or it’s beyond what their parents are capable of dealing with at that time,” said CEO of Family Service and Children’s Aid, Bob Powell.

Jackson police chief Elmer Hitt says it’s something his team is proud to be a part of.

“We as law enforcement officers we want the best for the kids in our community and we certainly want them to stay in school and for the schools to be able to provide for those kids in a way that is meaningful,” said Hitt.

Lyons says, seeing so many groups come together to help the youth is what every community needs.

“Make them feel accepted and that we are going to be there for them is really helpful.”

For more information on the program there is a link below.
https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/adult-child-serv/childrenfamilies/tts/handle-with-care/program-overview