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DOJ's Andrea LeStarge One of Three Network Members Recognized Nationwide
MADISON — The Wisconsin Drug Endangered Children (DEC) Alliance recently was recognized by the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children at their annual Network Awards & Recognition Dinner held in Dallas on Monday, November 8. The award winners were selected based on those nominated for showing the most effort in collaborative approaches in the DEC effort.
In addition, DOJ's Andrea LeStarge was one of three network members (out of over 100 nationwide) to be nominated and selected as the network member who shows continuous improvement in the DEC effort.
“I am delighted and very proud that the vitally important work of the Wisconsin Drug Endangered Children Alliance and Andrea is being recognized at the national level,” said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.
Drug endangered children are those children who suffer physical or psychological harm or neglect resulting either from exposure to illegal drugs or persons under the influence of illegal drugs, or from exposure to dangerous environments where drugs are being manufactured. In Wisconsin individual Drug Endangered Children programs are often formed at the county level.
“Law enforcement is often the first to discover a drug endangered child,” said Van Hollen. “But investigating and prosecuting a parent or guardian's drug crime doesn't completely remove a drug endangered child from the harm and adverse effects caused by drug activity in the home. Drug Endangered Children programs unite law enforcement with other agencies and organizations to provide a more comprehensive strategy for protecting these children who are victims.”
A DEC program is a multidisciplinary team often comprised of members from law enforcement, human services, prosecutors, the medical community, the health department, and probation and parole. Other participants may include schools, treatment centers, non-profit groups, faith-based organizations and community members.
Through the DEC program, organizations within a community work together to enhance their response to the immediate needs of drug endangered children and to gather adequate evidence to substantiate prosecution of appropriate endangerment and other charges. Each county is unique, and specific regional needs and available resources influence the type of DEC program implemented.
The DEC initiative in Wisconsin began in November 2004, when a multidisciplinary focus group met to discuss the national DEC program. A statewide steering committee was formed with approximately 20 members from various disciplines. In 2005, members of the national DEC alliance provided basic DEC training for approximately 600 people in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Alliance provided guidance to counties in the development of their DEC programs, sponsors an annual statewide DEC conference, and has developed a website for use as a DEC resource. For further information about the Wisconsin DEC Alliance, visit http://www.wisconsindec.org/.