Phase 2: Implementation of a Collaborative Approach to Helping Drug Endangered Children


One of the primary goals of the DEC mission is to make individual practitioners, disciplines, agencies, and systems effective in responding to drug endangered children and the related issues of abuse and neglect, trauma, violence, and human trafficking that they may be experiencing. Building on awareness of the true risks and challenges faced by drug endangered children - the next step is taking action by truly collaborating with other disciplines and making changes to how practitioners do their jobs.

Because drug activity and substance abuse impact all communities and the DEC mission engages practitioners from so many different disciplines, the DEC Approach has a community-wide impact. As you implement the DEC Approach it is important to continue to reach out to your community. Connect with those who have been provided brochures you have previously developed and disseminated. Ask them for input on how to improve them and what additional information is needed. Consider what continuing education you might be able to offer to help your community take the next step in their DEC efforts and education. Think about which disciplines you need to build a stronger partnership with and provide more training and outreach to those groups; help connect them to your existing DEC alliance of professionals.


National DEC continues to develop documents and information to help communities spread awareness. “Developmental Consequences of Fetal Exposure to Prenatal Drug Use,” is another factsheet for your dissemination to develop awareness of DEC issues.

For those that are looking to go deeper into various topics, National DEC developed 4 modules of free online training. Learn more about the online training here.

Continue Core DEC Awareness Training In-Person or Online

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

Continue to Identify and Engage Leadership, Disciplines, Agencies, and Stakeholders

Drug activity and substance abuse impact all of our communities, and the DEC Approach engages professionals from many different disciplines and has a community-wide impact. As you implement DEC efforts, it is important to ask yourself how you are reaching out to your community. This is a great time to think about and develop brochures and information to distribute throughout your community as well as to other disciplines.

As part of community outreach, it is important to continue to identify and engage community stakeholders who should be involved in your local DEC efforts. Continue to work on the “Worksheet for Identifying Key Disciplines & Individuals to Assist DEC Initiatives” in the toolkit as discussed in the Awareness stage. Remember, everyone has something to offer; you may be surprised by the people or disciplines who are able to assist the most. Review the data and information gathered from the worksheet. How has the awareness around drug endangered children impacted the efforts, services, and actions of all disciplines involved? Discuss this with your alliance, what are the next steps needed to be taken? Use this worksheet to continually check back and gather information to regularly discuss and adjust your DEC efforts as needed.

Provide DEC Approach: Moving from Awareness to Action Training

This in-person training is provided by National DEC staff at a community, regional, or state level. It focuses on how to implement the DEC Approach, which is a comprehensive strategy based on a common vision, ongoing collaboration between various disciplines and agencies, and ongoing changes in practice. This DEC Approach has proven to be effective in improving the likelihood of better outcomes for drug endangered children. The training provides insights about how various practitioners—including child welfare professionals, law enforcement officers, court and judicial professionals, prosecutors, probation and parole officers, medical personnel, educators, and treatment providers—are in a position to identify, protect, and serve drug endangered children and their families.


The trainers discuss the identification of risks to drug endangered children and what all disciplines can look for when collecting evidence and information on drug endangered children. The trainers use pictures and video of real DEC scenarios to assist professionals in understanding what to look for regarding the “life of the child.” The training includes trainer-led discussions and hands-on exercises to demonstrate how implementing collaboration enhances the likelihood of better outcomes for drug endangered children.

A copy of the DEC Approach learning objectives can be found here.

Complete and Disseminate the Community Assessment

Completing the Community Assessment worksheet in the toolkit will inform people of the pressing issues in the community and get them involved.  It may help in getting funding to assist in your efforts. Dissemination of the completed information allows others to be informed and to provide more widespread knowledge of the issues. See the Awareness section for complete information.

Identify, Develop, and Implement DEC Promising Practices


Checklists are very useful tools to put procedures and policies into practice. They can help ensure that key steps, pieces of evidence, contacts, or other information are not missed when dealing with cases involving drug endangered children. These checklists can be used for different agencies and then shared with partner agencies. They provide various disciplines with guidance in gathering important information.



National DEC has released publications that will assist law enforcement and their partners in their DEC efforts. These publications can be ordered through the COPS Office and sent to you for free. Or you can read them below.

Collaboration between community partners to identify and solve problems then implement effective organizational changes is what community policing and DEC efforts are all about. It is our hope that these guides will be a useful tool for law enforcement and other practitioners who want to get involved in the DEC mission by helping build a foundation of strong partnerships with a focus on the child.



National DEC and its network have developed and created other tools to assist professionals in DEC efforts. Here are some of those for your use:


National DEC has encouraged and helped both state and local alliances in setting up websites in order to provide information to a broad audience. Some of these include the following:

Social Media Sites

National DEC encourages and can help both state and local alliances in setting up social media sites in order to spread the word. Some examples of these are listed here.

Handle with Care

This promising practice tool was developed under the umbrella of West Virginia State DEC Alliance. It started out to ensure that children were getting identified by law enforcement when a traumatic incident occurred. Law enforcement officers would send a “handle with care” notice to the child’s school to inform them that the child had experienced a trauma in their life, which kept the school staff informed and enabled them to provide necessary intervention. National DEC’s local alliances have since expanded on this practice to include various other disciplines to identify children as early as possible, as not all children are involved with law enforcement and may be missed if law enforcement is the only discipline involved. Now, children are being identified by other community partners and disciplines that are alliance trained and children are being identified earlier and provided support through the education system.

QR codes

A QR code is an image that a smartphone user can scan with a free app and immediately be sent to a website. As a promising practice tool for DEC, one of the Florida Local DEC alliances created a QR code to provide people with emergency information quickly, including crisis information. Others have linked QR codes to their DEC websites or other websites. These codes can be printed on stickers that can be placed on clipboards or even police cars, on handouts for events, or just on a small card to hand to those in need.

Mobile applications

Greene County, Missouri, developed a DEC mobile community application to assist in providing its community and its professionals with DEC information. National DEC has helped other communities develop apps for use in connecting professionals and providing information. 

Stay Connected 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.