Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

November 2013Vol. 14, No. 8Protecting Drug-Endangered Children

It is estimated that over 9 million children live in homes where a parent or other adult living in the home uses illegal drugs. The negative effects on children growing up surrounded by illegal drugs are substantial. These children are three times more likely to be verbally, physically, or sexually abused and four times more likely to be neglected than children living in drug-free homes. The Drug Endangered Children Guide for Law Enforcement, developed by the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children (National DEC), offers law enforcement professionals information on how to develop an effective community collaborative to respond to drug-endangered children (DEC) when the adults in their home are involved in drug activity or substance abuse.

The DEC approach focuses on building and sustaining community-based partnerships that involve professionals from multiple disciplines, including law enforcement, child welfare, the courts, and medical personnel. The purpose of the partnership is to develop a collaborative approach to rescue, defend, shelter, and support children exposed to illegal drugs and substance abuse. All disciplines involved in the DEC approach have different responsibilities and, therefore, have different goals and priorities. However, each discipline should be aware of the priorities and responsibilities of their community partners and work as a team for the best interests of the child.

The guide includes a section on building and participating in a DEC local alliance, including the agencies and/or areas of expertise that should be included, as well a list of questions to ask and examples of evidence when trying to determine if a child is at risk of maltreatment.

The Drug Endangered Children Guide for Law Enforcement is available here: (16 MB)