Medical and Mental Health Services
A medical professional who has been trained in diagnosing and treating children exposed to child abuse, possible chemical hazards, and trauma should be a member of the DEC team. Before any seizure of a meth lab, operational agreements should be established with appropriate medical professionals to ensure that personnel are included who can help identify the children who have been harmed, determine the extent of harm, and provide treatment, support services, and monitoring.
A child’s exposure to methamphetamine can begin during pregnancy. Unfortunately, the methamphetamine the mother uses goes to the fetus. The risks to the fetus are even greater than the risks to the mother. To prevent potential danger from any drug, it is best if the woman talks with her health care provider about the risks involved with any drug she is planning to use or has used. Studies have found that women often respond to recommendations from their health care provider. To find a prenatal health care provider, call 1-800-451-2229, the Family Health Line, for assistance in finding a provider serving your community.
In addition, pregnant women and new parents who abuse illegal drugs during pregnancy are eligible for Healthy Start services. These services can assist by reducing barriers to getting medical care, substance abuse treatment, and providing support while receiving treatment. To locate the Healthy Start Coalition in your community, visit www.healthystartflorida.com.
Children's Medical Evaluation
Urine illegal drug testing and a physical examination should occur as soon as possible after a child is found living at or visiting a methamphetamine production site. Medical personnel should document each child’s physical and mental condition, using photographs as appropriate. They also should document any injuries or neglect that occurred before lab seizure, in addition to providing diagnosis and treatment for drug exposures resulting from the manufacturing process, ingestion of drugs and hazardous substances, and exposure to inhaled drugs. Results of these medical evaluations and testimony of the examining physician, toxicologist, or other specialists may be required in child endangerment cases.
Mental Health/Substance Abuse Services
To address the complex behavioral and emotional problems experienced by these children, the Child Protection Teams should participate on the DEC Team. Crisis intervention may be needed when children are removed from their families. Referrals for therapeutic services are often necessary for children coping with the effects of long-term neglect and abuse. The mental health professional should be consulted throughout the prosecution of a case, working closely with child protective services, law enforcement, and prosecutors to consider the emotional state of the child. To locate a substance abuse treatment provider, visit http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/
. To locate mental health professionals, visit www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/databases
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Medical and Mental Health Services for Drug Endangered Children in Florida