Bill Glienke, LBSW, who works for Upper Des Moines Opportunity Inc. under the NW Iowa Federal Regional Partnership Grant, shared that the Alliance spawned from the public concern over parents producing meth labs in the home and the dangers they present to children.
"We needed to find ways to protect the children and assure their safety in the process of an arrest, emotionally and physically."
It is important, he said, to have a good plan in place as to not emotionally injure the children any further than they suffer when seeing their parents being arrested.
"We do a good job in BV County," he said. "We have a good plan and know who to contact to protect the kids."
Often, children found at these homes are turned over to the care of a family friend or relative without regard for the appropriateness of such placements. Moreover, decisions to hand the child off to a relative often fail to consider the effects of the toxic chemicals or hazards and the child's need for medical intervention.
That protocol includes making sure that an immediate and appropriate medical exam, including a test for exposure to toxic chemicals and developmental screening. Upon being removed from the crime scene, the children are provided with new clothing, food, and, if needed, crisis counseling and a shower or bath to reduce chemical exposure. A forensic interview is conducted with the child in a child-friendly environment, and a medical exam is conducted to determine the child's immediate safety and to collect important evidence used in the drug and child abuse prosecutions and Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) cases.
"We understand that the kids are in the middle of this" and become the victims. "We want them to heal throughout the trauma. We recognize the children have scars (from going through seeing their parents arrested) and we pay close attention to that."
Glienke stressed that it is important to heal not only the children but the entire family, when possible, and that requires much hard work, through Family Treatment Court.
"We really want to work on seeing the parent(s) get healthy by becoming clean and sober and reconnect in a positive way. It's therapeutic when they (the kids) can see their parents grasp recovery and have the courage to quit and get help."
Glienke shared that there are many success cases and that gives all those involved in the Alliance for DEC inspiration.
"It's neat to see the parents advance back into the parenting role."
Alliance for DEC also provides some preventative education in the school district, reaching many children.
The BV Alliance, comprised of 15-20 members meets on a monthly basis.
Last Thursday, BV Alliance of DEC hosted the Taste of Storm Lake. Funds raised at this event and other fundraisers are used in a number of ways including helping in the sending of children to Camp Hope in Fort Dodge. The camp provides help skills and activities, among other things, to those children who have gone through the trauma.
On Sept. . 29, the third annual Northwest Iowa Substance Abuse Recovery Walk and Celebration will be held in Spencer. There will be activties and games for children, food and live music. Pat McGill, an inspirational speaker from the Lakes area, will be the recovery walk leader.
The walk is to raise community awareness about substance abuse recovery and provide resources surrounding addiction.
For additional information on the BV Alliance for Drug Endangered Children, contact Audra O'Neill, Juvenile Court Services, Buena Vista Co. Courthouse, 712-749-2564.