SUPERVISOR DIANNE JACOB
DATE: November 11, 2011
CONTACT: Steve Schmidt, 619-531-4766 or 619-206-910
5,191 CHILDREN RESCUED FROM ‘METH HELL’
They find meth and other drugs. Weapons. Drug money. Drug users and dealers. They find children, the innocent victims of meth.
In 1998, the County Meth Strike Force created the Drug Endangered Children (DEC) program to assist law enforcement with the safe removal of children from meth and other drug-infested homes. Since the program began, 5,191 children have been rescued from filthy environments.
“We are talking about infants, toddlers, young children, teenagers living in meth hell,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who led the effort for the creation of the Meth Strike Force. “Children in raided homes are living in a meth hell because, to a meth user, the most important thing is the drug. The children come last.”
Created in collaboration with the District Attorney’s Office and the Health and Human Services Agency’s (HHSA) Child Welfare Services, DEC ensures that when officers enter a drug-raid home and find children present, they immediately call a social worker to the scene to address the needs of the child.
Before DEC was established, law enforcement officers had few options.
Thanks to DEC, law enforcement officers no longer have to change dirty diapers. They don’t have to comfort screaming and traumatized babies, scared of what is happening around them, or transport them in the back of a police car, further adding to their trauma.
Before the Drug Endangered Children program, some of the children ended up back in unhealthy environments. Not anymore.
“A child’s home should be the safest place for them to be, but sometimes it is not. And when that happens, County social workers are there to help,” said Nick Macchione, Director of HHSA, which is spearheading the County’s Live Well, San Diego! initiative, a 10-year plan to improve the health, safety, and well being of area residents. “Social workers are there to make sure that the wellbeing of the children comes first. That is our number one priority.”
If you suspect children are being abused or neglected, you should call the County’s Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 344-6000. Drug activity can be reported at (877) NO2-METH or www.no2meth.org. The calls and reports are completely confidential.