5,191 Children Rescued from 'Meth Hell'

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November 17, 2011 | 11:48am

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. Through the end of last year, 5,191 children have been rescued from filthy, drug-infested environments, County officials announced today.

“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  Child Welfare Services, DEC ensures that when officers conduct a drug raid on a 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 or transport them in the back of a police car, further adding to their distress.

Before the Drug Endangered Children program was started, 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 the reality is that sometimes it is not,” said Nick Macchione, Director of the Health and Human Services Agency, 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. “The County of San Diego is going to be there to make sure the children come first."

If you suspect children are being abused or neglected, you should call the County 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.