Last updated: August 28. 2013 1:53AM - 128 Views

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Sedalia Mothers Against Methamphetamine (MAMa) members have found a new mission for the organization by bringing together community partners in support of children at risk due to illicit drug use in the home.

MAMa members met Thursday with representatives of public health, mental health, social service and law enforcement to discuss the group’s plans to act as a local coordinator for the Missouri Alliance for Drug Endangered Children. The Missouri Alliance is part of the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children, both of which serve to provide a comprehensive, multi-agency response to assist children whose well-being is jeopardized by drug manufacturing, cultivation, distribution or use in the home.

Chuck Daugherty, executive director for ACT Missouri and a representative for the Missouri Alliance, told a group of about 20 community members at Thursday’s meeting that the goal is to see coordination and cooperation among groups, agencies and individuals to aid at-risk children.

“The Alliance is all about collaborations and partnerships,” Daugherty said. “If we make working with drug-endangered children everyone’s job, then everyone’s job gets a little easier.”

The move was prompted by Kevin Fox, formerly with the Pettis County Community

Partnership and now with Katy Trail Community Health, after the May 9 Sedalia Police Department STING Unit search that found nearly one pound of meth, a handgun and $18,500 in cash.

Fox said he attended a child abuse conference two months ago and heard Daugherty speak about the Missouri Alliance.

“Then we had the events pretty much right next to our office where we had a pound of meth found,” Fox said. “We kind of watched that all happen through the day. By 7 a.m. there were some gentlemen on the porch in handcuffs and the kids were out playing with their toys in the front yard like it was normal. Later in the day when school got out, there were older kids there. They just came home and played in the backyard. That isn’t normal for any of us and that is abusive.”

He said after talking with law enforcement officials, there is little officers can do for children at the scene of a drug crime other than alerting social services.

After discussions with MAMa Executive Director Claudia Kays, Fox suggested the group consider becoming certified as a local Missouri Alliance organization, prompting Thursday’s meeting.

“I went to (MAMa’s) meeting and said I think there is a good program you guys could incorporate. I think it is a good fit for MAMa,” Fox said.

Kays said internal issues and a loss of focus had forced the advocacy and support group to consider disbanding.

“I got involved with MAMa because I have a son addicted to meth. I have a passion for this. One year ago MAMa was also going to disband and give it up and I didn’t want that to happen. I want to see it through and I want to help people,” Kays said.

Daugherty told the group that communities often have enough resources to address the issues. What is lacking is communication and coordination of efforts.

By affiliating with the Missouri Alliance, the community has access to additional funding avenues, as well as group and “discipline-specific training” for law enforcement, child care providers, health care professionals and others who may have contact with an at-risk child.

He added that at-risk children are more likely to be abused and neglected and are more likely to develop substance abuse issues of their own as they get older.

“The idea is to change the community where that kind of stuff doesn’t happen and we can address the problems before they start,” Daughtery said. “The earlier we can intervene in their lives, the better chance they have.”

Kays said that fact was a big motivating factor for her interest in the alliance.

“I want to help fight this and possibly break some cycles, even if it is small. I want to help the kids so they can have a productive life and we don’t see the cycle just going on and on,” Kays said.

For more information on training or MAMa, contact Kays at 660-202-9619.

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