Vol. 10, No. 2
April 2005
Crafting a Safe, Family-Centered Response to Meth
Recently Chad Slagle, a North Carolina CPS worker from a county affected by meth, travelled to a national conference about the drug. Although the event taught him some useful things, there was one “lesson” he made a conscious decision not to take back home.
According to Slagle, most of the child welfare professionals from other states he spoke with said they don’t attempt to keep the family together or reunify them when they find children in a meth lab. “They go straight for TPR (termination of parental rights),” he says.
Despite having seen firsthand the terrible effects meth has had in his own community, Slagle was appalled. He says, “My response to this was, ‘We’re not doing this.’ Kids deserve their families. Families deserve more.”
The state of North Carolina strongly agrees. As it clearly expresses in its children’s services policy, North Carolina believes that although the safety of the child is always our first concern, the presence of meth use or a meth lab should be a signal to agencies to conduct a thorough, strengths-based assessment and to make a robust attempt to ensure family members receive the treatment and support they need to stay together or to reunify if at all possible.
As a practice community we are in the process of trying to understand exactly how to do this. It is an incremental journey that is happening county by county, worker by worker, family by family. As you and your agency participate in this effort there are guidelines that you can follow. A good jumping off place is North Carolina’s new drug endangered child policy, which can be found at .
We hope the suggestions below, which are drawn from our discussions with practitioners and a review of the literature on meth and child welfare, are also useful to you as you work to protect and support families struggling with meth.
Suggestions for Child Welfare Practice
Safety. Know about the dangers posed by meth use and meth labs. Knowing how to recognize the signs of meth intoxication is important, since it is linked to violent and unpredictable behavior. Follow your agency’s safety protocols. Never do anything to endanger yourself or others.
Family Engagement. Attempts to join with meth-involved parents can be frustrating. Because the drug heightens energy and inflates self-esteem, some meth users feel so “on top of the world” that they are genuinely unable to see any reason for DSS involvement with their family. Yet it is important to avoid pre-judging or demonizing meth users. Assess each family individually. Families involved with meth also have strengths. Help the family find these and build on them.
Case Decisions. Parental substance abuse alone does not constitute child maltreatment. When substantiating or finding a family in need of services, it is important to fully document the negative impact of parental behaviors on the children.
Collaboration. Collaborate with law enforcement by reporting suspected meth use and by jointly approaching families when meth use is known. A close working relationship with substance abuse, medical, and mental health professionals will help you support families. If your community doesn’t have an active Drug Endangered Child task force, start one. If it does, join it.
Placement. Placement in foster care should never be automatic, even in the case of a lab. Thoroughly assess kin and others before placing children: meth use is sometimes a problem for extended families. Consulting with law enforcement can help prevent risky placements. NCDSS drug endangered child policy contains a useful guide for preparing resource families.
In-home Services. Effective addiction treatment is essential. Identify and or/help develop meth treatment resources in your community. Develop realistic plans with families, plans that can accommodate episodes of relapse.
Court. To respond effectively to meth, child welfare agencies need to have access to experts (toxicologists, chemists, chemistry professors) who can testify in court for them. Meth cases typically require more preliminary preparation.
Permanence. Because of the time needed to recover from intense, sustained meth use, and because users may be involved with the criminal justice system, it can be a challenge to achieve family reunification for meth-involved families within ASFA timeframes.
Education. Make sure foster parents and other team members are fully informed about meth use. Educate the schools so they will know how to recognize the signs of meth lab exposure in children. Also, thoroughly educate birth families about the effects and dangers of meth use and production. Carefully document that they have received this information. This can enhance child safety after reunification, or it can provide persuasive evidence in court if reunification is not possible.
References for this and other articles in this issue

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Please make note that I, Jessica Lynn Hepner the creator of What Every Parent Should Know, is not giving legal advice. I am not a lawyer. I am giving you knowledge via first hand experiences.

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Save A Life by Angie Kassabie

Save A Life by Angie Kassabie
I URGE ALL MY FRIENDS TO READ & SHARE THIS; YOU COULD SAVE A LOVED ONES LIFE BY KNOWING THIS SIMPLE INFORMATION!!! Stroke has a new indicator! They say if you forward this to ten people, you stand a chance of saving one life. Will you send this along? Blood Clots/Stroke - They Now Have a Fourth Indicator, the Tongue: During a BBQ, a woman stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics) ...she said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food. While she appeared a bit shaken up, Jane went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Jane's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00 PM Jane passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Jane would be with us today. Some don't die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead. It only takes a minute to read this. A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough. >>RECOGNIZING A STROKE<< Thank God for the sense to remember the '3' steps, STR. Read and Learn! Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions: S *Ask the individual to SMILE. T *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (i.e. Chicken Soup) R *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS. If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher. New Sign of a Stroke -------- Stick out Your Tongue NOTE: Another 'sign' of a stroke is this: Ask the person to 'stick' out his tongue. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke. A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this e-mail sends it to 10 people; you can bet that at least one life will be saved. I have done my part. Will you?

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