Phase 3: Institutionalization
To maintain the benefits of awareness about the risks faced by drug endangered children and implementing the collaborative DEC Approach, National DEC recommends the creation of Local DEC Alliances. Formalizing the collaborative working relationships developed under the DEC Approach with a DEC Alliance will bring the local practitioners together on a regular basis for ongoing review, assessment, and enhancements of their DEC efforts. A Local DEC Alliance provides a mechanism for sustaining cross-disciplinary and inter-agency collaboration and facilitates ongoing changes in policies and practices. The collaboration and changes in the ways the various disciplines and agencies perform their work can be spelled out in protocols and MOU’s.
National DEC has created a Local DEC Development Facilitation training and other resources to assist with the development of Local DEC Alliances. This training is most effective when it follows DEC Awareness and DEC Approach Implementation trainings.
Continue to connect with National DEC: It will be important to connect to National DEC staff via email and phone as well as connecting with National DEC information via www.nationaldec.org, Facebook, Twitter
Continue Core DEC Awareness Training In-Person and Online: National DEC offers Core DEC Training in an easy to watch format for those professionals that may not be able to attend an in-person training. This training is in 6 short easy to watch videos that are downloadable at any time.
Continue DEC Approach Training: As a Local DEC Alliance is being developed, continuing to provide DEC Approach training will be important for giving the practitioners involved the insights and tools for implementing collaboration and on-going change. See the Implementation section for a description of the DEC Approach Training
Provide Local DEC Development Training and Facilitation:
Local DEC Alliance Development – Sustaining the DEC Approach
National DEC’s Local DEC Development training teaches law enforcement, child welfare and their professional colleagues and community partners about the benefits of forming local DEC alliances that formalize working relationships between the professionals who are involved with drug endangered children and their families. The training focuses on providing local practitioners with the proven specific steps and techniques to establish a formal drug endangered children alliance and assists disciplines in discussing as well as developing protocols and MOU’s to assist in institutionalize DEC efforts and responses within each community. This material in this very practical training is based on the experiences of successful local DEC alliances in various jurisdictions across the country, including tribal communities.
Provide Train the Trainer Trainings: National DEC has developed a Train the Trainer Training program for developing trainers that are certified to train the Core DEC and the DEC Approach Trainings within the community. This program ensures that DEC efforts will be sustained and institutionalized locally as these certified trainers will be able to provide ongoing training to those practitioners that have not had these trainings.
Conduct Regular Meetings: It is important to have Local DEC Alliance meetings on a regular basis. This will assist in building relationships and partnerships, allow for case reviews, allow for training and education opportunities, and will assist in sustaining DEC efforts.
Develop and Utilize Protocols, MOU's, and Bylaws: Implementing the collaborative DEC approach involves having conversations and meetings with fellow practitioners, developing closer working relationships, sharing information, and considering and adopting changes in procedures and practice – all of which can be reflected in protocols and MOU’s. DEC protocols and MOU’s have been developed and put in place in various jurisdictions across the country. The following examples can be utilized and modified to meet the needs of your community.
National DEC Build a DEC Protocol Worksheet This will assist in starting to build a DEC protocol that will be relevant to your community and to the disciplines involved in your DEC efforts. Examples from existing Local DEC Alliances are included as well.
National DEC Building a DEC Bylaw Worksheet
National DEC Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Examples
National DEC Legislation and Resolution Examples
Promising practices developed and shared:
National DEC Promising Practices Publication: As the collaborative DEC approach gets implemented at the local level, you may initiate and implement new and creative ways for drug endangered children to be identified and protected, for collaboration to be more effective, or ways to enhance other aspects of the DEC mission. These may be labeled as “promising practices” and it is important to identify promising practices so that you can share these with other professionals and other disciplines. Identifying and sharing promising DEC practices strengthens DEC efforts locally and National DEC shares these practices with practitioners across the nation to spread innovative practices for helping drug endangered children.
Political and Policy Support: The DEC mission addresses a significant number of key public policy issues that are of interest to elected and senior appointed officials, including child maltreatment, child placements, drug activity, substance abuse, human trafficking, community-oriented policing, incarceration rates, drug courts, and educational outcomes. It is important to continue to think about how to engage political leaders within your community, tribe, or state, as well as at the Federal level. Getting support from political leaders will assist in moving DEC efforts forward and may even result in policy or law changes that strengthen the DEC mission.
A sample of the type of letter you may choose to send to your local, state, tribal, and federal elected officials and agency leaders which you can customize to fit your needs can be found here:
Continue to assess and enhance overall DEC efforts: The Collaborative DEC Approach is designed to create on-going collaboration and on-going change. This is because the practitioners who have the responsibility and authority to serve drug endangered children and families will always face new challenges, new drug trends, new policies and laws, and other changing circumstances. In addition, each case that is dealt with in a collaborative manner will have its’ own lessons about what worked well and what could have been handled better. For these reasons, it is vitally important for DEC alliances to continuously assess what things are working and what things are not working and how DEC efforts can be enhanced in your community.