LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – Across the country, emergency responders say they are seeing a trend when they respond to drug overdoses.
They say that they are seeing more children present at the scene.
Alice Yoder, the executive director of Community Health at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, said there is a greater risk to those children involved with opioid issues.
Now, thanks to nearly $700,000 in federal grant money, Lancaster County is launching a new task force called “Joining Forces for Children.”
Part of the task force includes a new program for children who see overdoses first hand. The program is called “Handle With Care.”
“Handle With Care is a trauma-sensitive approach that allows police to notify school personnel when a child is present a traumatic scene,” said Christine Glover, the project coordinator of Joining Forces for Children.
Handle With Care provides more training for police and allows schools to cater to children impacted by the opioid crisis.
The program also gives schools and other systems in Lancaster County more resources to help those kids, like counseling, and a new child advocate.
“We’re looking to take a more proactive preventative approach to build those coping skills, those resiliency skills, and to build those protective factors in young folks to change their trajectory,” Glover said.
Lancaster County already has a “Joining Forces” taskforce for adults. That task force has seen overdose deaths decrease in the last two years.