Children's Voice Mar/Apr 2006

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National DEC Alliance Helping Communities Fight Meth

Drug-endangered children (DEC) are those who suffer physical or psychological harm from exposure to illegal drugs, to persons under the influence of illegal drugs, or to dangerous environments where drugs are manufactured or the chemicals used to make the drugs are accessible.

In 2003, the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children formed to advocate on behalf of these children and help communities build collaborative teams to coordinate services and supports for them. The alliance provides multidisciplinary training for communities interested in starting or expanding DEC programs. Today, more than 20 states have formed DEC Alliances, and more than 3,000 people nationwide have received DEC awareness or DEC team implementation training.

DEC teams include first responders, child protective services, law enforcement, medical and mental health professionals, prosecutors and county attorneys, child advocates, substance abuse treatment providers, other community leaders, and the general public.

The alliance also provides updated research, best practice information, and referrals to experts on topics concerning drug-endangered children.

"We understand that as communities try to address this issue, there is no perfect model," says Alliance Chair Laura Birkmeyer. "What works in a very rural community in South Dakota is not going to work in Miami Beach--they have very different resources available, they may have very different government structures in place, they may not even rely on government structures to help drug endangered children. What we try to do is give information that considers the many different environments in which drug-endangered children are found, and give communities options."

For more information on the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children, visit www.nationaldec.org, or e-mail national.dec@usdoj.gov.


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