CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Three police agencies in West Virginia are teaming up to help children who are being put at risk of abuse or neglect because of their parents' prescription drug abuse.
State Police and sheriff's departments in Kanawha and Putnam counties will begin participating in the Drug Endangered Children Tracking System (DECSYS) on July 1. Every felony drug arrest in the two counties will be entered into the system and the information will be shared with child protection workers.
State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous said the goal is to help child protection workers identify situations in which children are abused or neglected.
Prescription drug abuse cases that include child abuse or neglect appear to be increasing in West Virginia, Baylous said.
Troopers were called earlier this week to a St. Albans area home when a 9-year-old girl called to report her father had threatened her with a knife.
Officers arrested the man and his girlfriend after finding his two daughters, aged 9 and 3, had been living in filthy conditions. The trooper found marijuana seeds, prescription drugs and drug paraphernalia were also found in the home.
CPS removed the children from the home and placed them in foster care.
Andrea Darr, the program manager for the Drug Endangered Children's Program and an employee at the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorney's Institute, said Colorado Alliance for Drug Endangered Children started the pilot program a few years ago and had success with it.
Colorado's two-year six-county pilot program saw thousands of cases being entered into the online system, which is accessible only by law enforcement and CPS workers. By early 2012, the alliance reported 60 percent of children found previously were not present upon a subsequent arrest, according to a handout from the Colorado group.
"Children whose parents abuse alcohol or drugs are (three times) more likely to be verbally, physically, or sexually abused," the handout read. "And (four times) more likely to be neglected."
Darr said the Colorado alliance was looking to expand the pilot program into other states. She lobbied hard for West Virginia to be included and succeeded.