- A 5 month old child dies in his crib after waiting for days for someone to feed him. What he doesn’t know is that his mom and dad overdosed on heroin 3 days ago in the house.
- An 18 month old is administered Narcan by emergency personnel after rolling over on a heroin needle while playing at his residence.
- A 5 year old child watches as paramedics help his parents who have passed out, overdosed on heroin in the car in which they were all driving in.
- An 11 year old child reports that her mother takes her to a drug dealer where she has sex with the dealer in exchange for her mother getting drugs. The girl reports that this has been going on for months because her mother doesn’t have a job.
- Children were found alone in an apartment with trash and moldy food on the floor, no running water, buckets full of feces and urine, flies everywhere, empty cupboards, and no fresh food to eat. Mom and Dad left earlier that morning to get opioids to get high. The children were filthy, delayed, and unsupervised.
The opioid epidemic is impacting so many children and families across our country every day. This epidemic is also impacting many communities through increases in crimes such as robberies, home invasions, child abuse and neglect/child endangerment, drug distribution, drug usage, human and sex trafficking, thefts, and assaults; all of these crimes are making communities more dangerous and making community professionals reactive, instead of proactive. In order to completely address the issues this epidemic has raised, we have to address the impact it is having on children.
The children that have been impacted by the opioid epidemic are in need of intervention too. They need as much, if not more, intervention and services than their parents in order to grow up and have normal lives. These children need to first be identified by law enforcement and other professionals at the earliest point possible. They then need ongoing services and support by professionals trained in trauma informed work. If we do not intervene in these children’s lives now, they will become the next generation engaged in substance abuse as well as child abuse and neglect later. These children are 100% of our future and if we do not do something to change the trajectory of these children’s lives, then who will…
So how do we do help to combat this epidemic along with helping children?
About National DEC: The National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children (National DEC) is a national nonprofit whose mission is to break these multi-generational cycles of substance abuse as well as child abuse and neglect by empowering and training professionals who work to change the trajectory of the lives of children and families living in drug environments.
What National DEC is Doing to Combat the Opioid Epidemic: National DEC is providing training and technical assistance to state, tribal, and local communities and all those who respond to and care for drug endangered children as well as those who work to prevent and address child abuse and neglect. This includes law enforcement, child welfare, prosecutors, judges, medical personnel, teachers, emergency services, probation/parole/corrections, treatment providers, prevention specialists, and other professionals within these communities. National DEC is bringing professionals together to truly collaborate and have a multidisciplinary response; something that is unprecedented yet working across the country.
National DEC advances community policing and addresses crime by furthering the DEC mission through a unique three tiered training program:
- Tier 1: “Core DEC Awareness” training assists communities and professionals in understanding the prevalence of drug activity and substance abuse and how it severely impacts children. The training enhances the ability of professionals to identify drug endangered children and the risks and trauma they face and highlights the opportunities through collaboration for changing the status quo to help drug endangered children, their families, and their communities.
- Tier 2: “DEC Approach” training is designed to move professionals from awareness to action. This interactive training directly engages all disciplines in developing collaborative partnerships, helps participants gain a deeper understanding of each discipline’s roles and responsibilities, assists in decreasing frustrations between disciplines, and gets participants discussing and focusing on solutions. The training effectively gets participants to identify and implement changes they can make in their practice to assist drug endangered children.
- Tier 3: “Local DEC Development Training and Facilitation” is hands-on training and facilitation that provides the foundation for developing a local DEC alliance as a formal, sustainable structure for on-going collaboration, on-going change, and sustained organizational transformation. This includes MOU’s, protocols, work plans, community assessments, alliance goals and strategic plans, and access to promising practices and solutions from other jurisdictions that have established DEC alliances. Local Development provides professionals and communities with a roadmap and toolkit for sustaining efforts and implementing solutions to assist in the opioid epidemic.
National DEC’s response to helping professionals and communities is impacting children and communities in a positive way! To find out more or to schedule training, please contact National DEC staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the National DEC website for more information.
Definition: Drug Endangered Child - The National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children defines drug endangered children as those “at risk of suffering physical or emotional harm as a result of illegal drug use, possession, manufacturing, cultivation, or distribution. They may also be children whose caretaker’s substance misuse interferes with the caretaker’s ability to parent and provide a safe and nurturing environment.” The essence of this definition is that “Children + Drugs = Risk.” The DEC movement challenges all of us to recognize these risks and to work together using the DEC Approach to protect children from abuse and neglect, which all too often occurs across generations. By working together and leveraging resources, we can provide drug endangered children opportunities to live in safe and nurturing environments free from abuse and neglect.