Wisconsin program to track kids who live in drug homesOfficials in Brown County hope a pilot program will help agencies figure out how many local children live in homes where adults use or sell drugs.
By: The Associated Press, Superior Telegram
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Officials in Brown County hope a pilot program will help agencies figure out how many local children live in homes where adults use or sell drugs.
The Oneida Drug Endangered Children Team is among four groups in the state participating in the program under which social workers and law enforcement can share information via a centralized computer system and thus provide better long-term counseling and treatment services.
The aim is to duplicate that system for all teams set up in 25 counties and five Native American tribes in the state, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported.
"The biggest benefit comes in being able to track what services are being provided to these families to make sure we're addressing their needs," Oneida police Chief Rich Van Boxtel said.
The Wisconsin Alliance for Drug Endangered Children began nine years ago and defines drug-endangered children as those at risk of neglect or abuse by a guardian's drug activities. The Brown County Drug Endangered Children Team was established in 2010. The group, which includes law enforcement officials, medical providers, social workers and school staff, meets monthly and works to coordinate response plans to make sure children are safe after a home is searched for drugs.
However, the team isn't required to have a centralized reporting system, and members say that makes it difficult to keep track of how many children the team assists and whether more resources were needed.
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 9 million children nationwide live in homes where an adult uses illegal drugs. Those children are three times more likely to be verbally, physically or sexually abused, and four times more likely to suffer neglect.
At least 24 other states have similar teams. The partnerships started forming across the U.S. within the past 10 years to help the growing number of children found during drug arrests, particularly those where methamphetamine was being produced, according to the Department of Justice.
Brown County Drug Task Force Lt. David Poteat said methamphetamine is more common in westernWisconsin. He said local investigators deal more with marijuana, cocaine, heroin and prescription pills — drugs that he said could still create unsafe environments for children.
Children who are found during a Brown County drug search often are interviewed at the Willow Tree Cornerstone Child Advocacy Center in Green Bay. Stacey Kreitz, the center's child forensic interviewer, said the main issue for those children is their parents' inability to care for them and keep them safe.
"It's important to know it's happening in our community," Kreitz said. "Just because we don't see it doesn't mean it doesn't happen."
Information from: Green Bay Press-Gazette, http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com.