Phase 1: Awareness about Drug Endangered Children


One of the key components of the drug endangered children mission is a clear understanding of the risks that children face when their caregivers are engaged in drug activity or substance abuse. This knowledge highlights the need for collaborative efforts to help these children and their families and motivates practitioners to look at how they can do their jobs differently to increase the chances of better outcomes for drug endangered children, families, and the communities they serve. Enhancing awareness about drug endangered children is an ongoing part of the DEC mission and it provides the foundation for taking action to implement and sustain the collaborative DEC Approach.


To build awareness of the issues of facing drug endangered children, information must be disseminated in a variety of formats. National DEC has developed training, brochures, publications, fact sheets, and other information to assist practitioners and communities in providing awareness. The following are some examples that will assist in spreading awareness.

  • For caregivers, National DEC created a fact sheet that explains “What Caregivers Should Know”.  This sheet provides those that may care for children exposed to substance abuse or drug activity information about these children and what they might experience.


Annual DEC Awareness Day

National DEC and its network of state, tribal, and local DEC alliances, along with other professionals across the nation, have designated the fourth Wednesday of April for focusing on drug endangered children awareness. On this day, individuals, agencies, disciplines, and communities across the United States and Canada come together with a common vision to help provide awareness on what issues and risks drug endangered children face and what can be done to identify, protect, and help these children. National DEC developed an informational sheet to provide further information about DEC Awareness Day and provides examples and ideas. (“Ideas for Promoting an Annual DEC Awareness Day”)

Core DEC Awareness Training  

This training is intended for all professionals working to help drug endangered children, which aligns with National’s DEC mission of forming multidisciplinary partnerships that take advantage of existing agency personnel, resources, and responsibilities and that coordinate their mutual interests and duties to meet the specific needs of these children. Assisting these children and addressing their needs does not conclude until the child is in a permanent, safe, and positive functioning environment. With the National DEC mission in mind, the Core DEC Training looks at the risks and long-term impact of drug endangered children, overcoming the challenges of aligning the agencies and systems responsible for preventing, intervening, and treating these issues to change the trajectories of the lives of drug endangered children and break multigenerational cycles of abuse and neglect.


A Copy of the Core DEC Training description and objectives can be found here.

National DEC Staff provides Core DEC Awareness Training at training events, conferences, community meetings, and other venues. To learn more about a Train the Trainer session email

Through our Train the Trainer program, National DEC also certifies practitioners to be Core DEC Trainers who can provide DEC awareness training in their communities.  To learn more about a Train the Trainer session email

National DEC partnered with the Miami Police Department to create Core DEC Training in an easy to watch format for those professionals that may not be able to attend the in-person training. This training, which comprises six short videos ranging from 7 to 15 minutes long that can be viewed online. These videos are snippets of the Core DEC Training to provide professionals with quick information about DEC.

Watch the 6 Core DEC videos here.

Identify Leadership, Disciplines, and Agencies to be involved in a DEC Alliance

Any community member or anyone from any discipline or profession can initiate a local DEC effort, but it cannot be done alone. Searching for potential, experienced practitioners whose work could aid local efforts to identify, protect, and serve drug endangered children requires creative, collaborative thinking. Remember, everyone has something to offer; you may be surprised by the people or disciplines who are able to assist the most.

The more practitioners and disciplines involved, the more effective and the greater impact a local DEC effort will have. However, there is likely to be a smaller group of key partners and motivated practitioners who will dedicate the time and energy to getting a local DEC alliance up and running.

To help identify potential partners, National DEC created a worksheet that can be used throughout DEC efforts: “Worksheet for Identifying Key Disciplines & Individuals to Assist DEC Initiatives.

Assess Your Community

Take a look at the needs of your community to identify specific issues that need to be addressed and resources available to assist with DEC efforts: Use National DEC’s “Assessment of Drug Endangered Children Issues within the Community.” National DEC recommends completing this community assessment to gather and analyze relevant data, identify areas where there are gaps and where there are strengths, and then start to identify areas to focus on next. The assessment should be conducted through a local DEC alliance or professionals working on DEC efforts to compile data from multiple disciplines to show how substance abuse is impacting children and families in communities. Once gathered and completed, the assessment can be disseminated with the approval of your supervisor.

Connect with National DEC

Practitioners can connect with National DEC in a variety of ways for a variety of things. National DEC's website includes information on upcoming training and webinars, and information on state and local DEC alliances, as well as ways to ask questions, request DEC training and contact National DEC staff. Practitioners can also connect via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to obtain a wide array of information on drug activity and substance abuse and the risks they pose to children, families, and communities.