Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Parental Drug Use as Child Abuse

Parental Drug Use as Child AbuseState Statutes Series
Author(s): Child Welfare Information Gateway
Year Published: 2006
Current through August 2006
You may wish to review this introductory text to better understand the information contained in your State's statute. To see how your State addresses this issue, visit the State Statutes Search.
Abuse of drugs or alcohol by parents and other caretakers can have a negative impact on the health, safety, and well-being of children. Approximately 45 States, the District of Columbia, and Guam currently have laws within their child protection statutes that address the issue of substance abuse by parents.1 Two main areas of concern are (1) the harm caused by prenatal drug exposure and (2) the harm caused to children of any age by exposure to illegal drug activity in the home.
Prenatal Drug Exposure
The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) requires States to have policies and procedures in place to notify CPS of substance-exposed newborns (SENs) and to establish a plan of safe care for newborns identified as being affected by illegal substance abuse or withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug exposure.2 Several States currently address this requirement in their statutes. Approximately 15 States and the District of Columbia have specific reporting procedures for infants who show evidence at birth of having been exposed to drugs, alcohol, or other controlled substances, while 13 States and the District of Columbia include this type of exposure in their definitions of child abuse or neglect.3
Some States specify in statute the response the CPS agency must make to reports of substance-exposed newborns. Hawaii and Maine require the State agency to develop a plan of safe care for the infant. California, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, and the District of Columbia require the agency to complete an assessment of the needs of the infant and the infant's family and make a referral to appropriate services. Illinois and Minnesota require mandated reporters to report when they suspect that pregnant women are substance abusers, so that the women can be referred for treatment.
Children Exposed to Illegal Drug Activity
There is increasing concern about the negative impact on children when parents or other members of the household abuse alcohol or drugs or engage in other illegal drug-related activity, such as the manufacture of methamphetamines in home-based laboratories. Many States have responded to this problem by expanding the civil definition of child abuse or neglect. Specific circumstances that are considered child abuse or neglect in some States include:
The manufacture of a controlled substance in the presence of child or on the premises occupied by a child4
Allowing a child to be present where the chemicals or equipment for the manufacture of controlled substances are used or stored5
Selling, distributing, or giving drugs or alcohol to a child6
The use of a controlled substance by a caregiver that impairs the caregiver's ability to adequately care for the child7
The exposure of the child to drug paraphernalia8
The exposure to the criminal sale or distribution of drugs9
The exposure to drug-related activity10
Approximately 23 States address the issue of exposing children to illegal drug activity in their criminal statutes.11 For example, in Georgia, Illinois, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming, the manufacture or possession of methamphetamine in the presence of a child is a felony, while in Idaho, Louisiana, and Ohio, the manufacture or possession of any controlled substance in the presence of a child is considered a felony. California, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, and Washington State have enacted enhanced penalties for any conviction for the manufacture of methamphetamine when a child was present on the premises where the crime occurred.
Exposing children to the manufacture, possession, or distribution of illegal drugs is considered child endangerment in Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, and Missouri. The exposure of a child to drugs or drug paraphernalia is a crime in North Dakota and Utah. In North Carolina and Wyoming, selling or giving an illegal drug to a child by any person is a felony.
To see how your State addresses this issue, visit the State Statutes Search.
To find information on all of the States and territories, view the complete printable PDF, Parental Drug Use as Child Abuse: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 306 KB).

1 The word approximately is used to stress the fact that the States frequently amend their laws. This information is current only through August 2006. The statutes in Alabama, American Samoa, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Vermont, and the U.S. Virgin Islands do not currently address the issue of children exposed to illegal drug activity. back2 42 U.S.C. 5101 et seq., as amended by the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-36). For more information on these issues, as well as training resources and technical assistance, visit the website of the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare at http://www.ncsacw.samhsa.gov. back3 Arizona, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Utah have enacted specific reporting procedures for drug-exposed infants. Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin include exposure of infants to drugs in their definitions of child abuse or neglect. back4 Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia. back5 Arizona and New Mexico. back6 Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Texas, and Guam. back7 Kentucky, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, and Texas. back8 North Dakota and Oregon. back9 Montana and Virginia. back10 District of Columbia. back11 Alaska, California, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming currently address the issue in their criminal statutes. back
This publication is a product of the State Statutes Series prepared by Child Welfare Information Gateway. While every attempt has been made to be as complete as possible, additional information on these topics may be in other sections of a State's code as well as agency regulations, case law, and informal practices and procedures.


Updated on August 23, 2007