Handle With Care for Law Enforcement

1. Determine Whether Children Are Present

  • Name
  • Age
  • Relationship to parties
  • School/Child Care Agency
  • Demeanor
  • Present during incident?
  • Physically harmed

2. Health & Safety Checks on Children

  • Visual Observation
  • Asking the Child
  • Determine if Treatment is Necessary
  • Mandated Reporting to CPS

3. Talking With Children About the Incident

4. Avoid Interviewing Witnesses in the Presence of Children

5. Follow-up Interviews

6. Documentation – Child’s name, age and school/agency should be documented by the responding officer.

7. Avoid Subduing or Arresting Someone in the Presence of Children

8. Separating Children from the Care Giving Parent/Guardian

9. Resources; Provide parent/guardian information:

  • Child Advocacy Centers
  • Victim Resources
  • DCI Coordinator

Reference: West Virginia Model Protocol: Law Enforcement On Scene Response to Domestic Violence When Children Are Present

10. Daily Review of Reports

  • Reports will be reviewed each morning by the law enforcement agency.
  • A “Handle With Care” notice will be generated for each child listed in each report.
  • A designee at the law enforcement agency will ensure the “Handle With Care” notice is promptly forwarded to the designated school official (via cell, fax, text or phone).

11. Quarterly Defending Childhood Initiative Team Meeting.

At least quarterly, key DCI stakeholders will review and evaluate DCI and make recommendations for improvement as necessary.

  • Law Enforcement
  • School
  • Advocates
  • Counselors
  • Case workers
  • Community partners
  • Parents
  • Head Start
  • Before and After School Programs
  • Child Care Agencies
  • Others

The Team will assess the following to determine the effectiveness of DCI: academic achievements; truancies; and disciplinary reports. The meeting will not focus on specific cases.


Handle With Care – Roll Call Video from Handle With Care on Vimeo.


Reference: West Virginia Model Protocol: Law Enforcement On Scene Response to Domestic Violence When Children Are Present

HWC Poster

Handle With Care Poster


Handle With Care Notice


WV Model Protocol screenshot

WV Model Protocol

Law Enforcement On-Scene Response to Domestic Violence when Children are Present


Screenshot of sample MOU between school and law enforcement

Sample MOU between School and Law Enforcement