As local law enforcement continues its fight against meth, officials say children are often caught in the crossfire, as their parents are investigated and arrested for drug use. Thanks to a new program, Mesa County officials say they can get those kids the help they need while authorities clean up the community.
Imagine a child who has spent all day at school, coming home to an empty house surrounded by police tape -- then learning their parents have been arrested on drug charges. The Mesa County Meth Task Force says it's a reality for many kids across Colorado, as authorities make busts without knowing children were somehow involved.
"It is so important that a youth doesn't come home to an empty house," said Angie Wickersham, Coordinator for the Mesa County Meth Task Force.
That's why they say they're taking action to make sure that trend doesn't continue.
"One of the cool things we're piloting now in our community is this program called DECSYS," said Wickersham.
DECSYS is a system designed to share information between law enforcement and child protective services, letting child protection know where authorities are making arrests, and letting authorities know where child protection is monitoring children.
"This system will help us to streamline the process so we can have access to that information even if there aren't children there at the time," said Erica Anderson, Child Protection Community Liaison for the Mesa County Department of Human Services. "If there is evidence of children, we can then follow up and make sure those children are safe."
They say DECSYS has drastically improved the lines of communication from where they were.
"They would send reports and those reports would be fairly lengthy," said Wickersham. "And potentially they would be sent days later."
They say it alerts both child services and authorities much sooner if children are involved in a case.
"We need that consistency to help protect children, because that's really what this is all about," said Anderson.
Officials say when it comes to taking on a problem as big as meth, better communication and more resources are just what they need.
"I think this is an excellent direction we're moving in," said Anderson.
The Mesa County Department of Human Services wants to remind you that if you ever have concerns that children are living in a drug environment, you can call their hot line at (970) 242-1211.