Power of Putnam working to spread education and awareness through a new Drug Endangered Children (DEC) grant.
Coordinator Mateo Huerta said a drug-endangered child is defined as one who lives in or is exposed to an environment where drugs are present for any number of reasons, including trafficking and manufacturing. He said at least one in eight children across the nation are considered drug-endangered.
“Also while on top of raising awareness, we’re trying to change how things are going in other sectors as well,” Huerta said. “Like with law enforcement, we’re trying to partner and start up ‘handle with care’ with them.”
Huerta said Handle with Care is a project that trains emergency personnel how to deal with traumatic incidents that involve children. He said the cases are reported as such, and helps to give school systems the tools they need to better deal with a child’s well-being should they be involved in such an incident.
Huerta said Putnam County received an allotment of some $86,000 for these efforts. He said while DEC is a relatively new program for Putnam County, it has proven beneficial in other areas and he is excited for it to succeed locally.
“You can this within foster care and you can see it within maybe your friend or family, it’s a very big problem and a very big deal and sets up lifelong trauma in trying to overcome those things, and I think we need to raise awareness,” Huerta said. “And if we can start talking about it and being more open about it, I think it will really start to make a difference.”
Huerta said the work continues in trying to create a more collaborative effort. He said they want to partner with law enforcement, schools, the hospital, and the community to move forward.