Drug Endangered Children
Who are Drug Endangered Children?
National DEC defines drug endangered children as children who are at risk of suffering physical or emotional harm as a result of legal and/or 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 National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children teaches early identification, response and appropriate intervention services to children and families affected by parental or caregiver substance misuse. We equip comprehensive, multidisciplinary alliances, communities, organizations and individuals with access to our national resource center, trainings and technical assistance.
The National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children defines drug endangered children as children who are at risk of suffering physical, mental or emotional harm as a result of parent or caregiver legal or illegal substance misuse. They may also be children whose caretaker’s legal or illegal substance use interferes with the caretaker’s ability to parent and provide a safe and nurturing environment.
Childwelfare.gov shares that nearly 9 million children live with at least one parent who has an SUD (substance use disorder), which is more than 12 percent of all children in the United States. Children living in environments where legal or illegal substance misuse is present are often subject to adverse childhood events such as physical, emotional, and psychological trauma (Barnard & McKeganey, 2004), putting them at risk for negative long-term challenges. They may be affected by prenatal drug exposure which, depending on the substance used, frequency, quantity and duration may lead to poor prenatal care, poor nutrition, prematurity or other developmental challenges. Children may also be affected by postnatal, adverse childhood experiences that could have long term consequences. It can be assumed that ALL drug endangered children are at risk, but at how much risk and risk for what varies (Drug Endangered Children: Risk Factors & Neuropsychological and Psychosocial Development, Dr. Kiti Freier-Randall).
The DEC challenge is identifying children affected by substance misuse environments as early as possible, intervening appropriately and providing services to the children and their family members. Children are often the first affected but can be the last recognized as being affected by substance misuse. National DEC teaches, trains and provides technical assistance support regarding the best practices for coordinating the various systems and professional disciplines able to intervene and provide services to these children and families in order to break the generational cycle of substance misuse.
1 in 8 children live in households with at least one parent who has a substance use disorder
1 in 10 children
live in households with at least one parent who has an alcohol use disorder.
1 in 35 children live in households with at least one parent who has an illicit drug use disorder.
How Can you help?
National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children (National DEC) develops coordinated, nationwide efforts to address legal or illegal substance misuse affecting children and families and offers help, hope and support. We organize, train and support multidisciplinary teams of professionals forming DEC Alliances at the state, regional, tribal or local level.
As a trauma informed organization, we build awareness so that those affected are appropriately identified, receive appropriate intervention and services. The services provided by DEC Alliance professionals help children, family members and those in substance misuse. The goal is to break generational cycles of substance misuse, reduce trauma and improve community health and well-being.
National DEC exists to build awareness, provide training and programs, and offers tools or best practices to help make a difference in the lives of children, families and communities.
If you suspect a child is drug-endangered, contact 1-877-866-6384, or to report suspected child abuse and neglect, contact the Tennessee Department of Children's Services at 1-877-237-0004. In case of an emergency or life-threatening situation, call 911.