Colorado Drug Endangered Children (DEC) promotes the health, safety, and well-being of drug endangered children through statewide training, technical assistance, and advocacy. Children are drug endangered when their caregiver’s substance use or involvement in the illegal drug trade results in child maltreatment or interferes with their ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment. Drug trafficking and substance abuse affect everyone, but they are particularly hard on innocent children living in a drug-infested environment. Each day, children all across America face emotional neglect, bodily harm, and sexual abuse because their parents or adult caregivers use, deal, or manufacture illegal drugs and other controlled substances. Often the most basic ingredients for a happy, healthy upbringing are lacking in these homes. In most cases, kids are simply forced to fend for themselves. Children who grow up in drug environments are frequently undernourished due to inadequate or unhealthy diets. Many suffer from poor hygiene, inadequate sleeping conditions, and a complete lack of immunizations, medical attention and dental care. Most don't make it to school regularly. In some homes, kids are constantly in physical danger due to the presence of syringes, toxic chemicals, weapons or the parents themselves. Due to abuse and neglect, far too many of these children face injury or even death each year from cuts, beatings, fires, explosions, car accidents or drowning. Potential long-term impacts include: developmental disorders, respiratory problems and other health issues that can haunt them the rest of their lives. An April 2009 report from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that 11.9% of children lived with at least one parent who was dependent on or abused alcohol or an illicit drug during the past year. Assuming Colorado follows the National trend, one conservative estimate is that there are 150,000 drug endangered children in Colorado.
Impact Summary from the Nonprofit Colorado Drug Endangered Children (CODEC) is committed to supporting children, families, organizations, and communities affected by substance abuse through increased collaboration, coordination of services, and systems integration. CODEC accomplishes this mission through the following objectives: (1) – to increase statewide recognition of children living in substance using environments through education, training, and technical assistance including but not limited to Core DEC Training, collaborative workshops, community assessment, strategic planning, and agency DEC policy development and evaluation; (2) – to increase the identification of drug endangered children and enhance communication between child welfare and law enforcement agencies through the Drug Endangered Children Tracking System (DECSYS), a unique web based tracking tool that allows for timely and appropriate disocovery of drug endangered children so they may be linked with child welfare services, as needed. DECSYS also allows us to collect and analyze accurate data on the scope of DEC issues, which in turn guide CODEC and community approaches so they are relevant to the specific needs of the community. (3) – to provide support to communities and organizations that increase the services for drug endangered children and their families through CODEC’s Family and Community Connections Program; and (4) – to support the development and dissemination of best practices, DEC guidelines, advocacy, and policy evaluation regarding child welfare issues in Colorado related to substance abuse. CODEC programming addresses obstacles to assisting drug endangered children in Colorado including the lack of coordination between the social and political systems charged with preventing, intervening, and treating drug endangered children cases. CODEC programs support the effective coordination of multiple systems so that we may break the cycle of abuse in families by providing an organizing structure, statewide network, and tools to foster healthy family dynamics.
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