Judiciary Committee Approves Feinstein Measure for Two-Year Extension of Program to Help Drug-Endangered Children
-Reauthorizes $20 million in grants to help children who lived at dangerous drug labs-
May 22 2008
Washington, DC – The Senate Judiciary Committee today approved a measure introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to extend for two years a program to help children endangered by having lived at dangerous drug labs.
It is co-sponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
The Drug Endangered Children Act (S.1210) would specifically authorize $20 million in grants for Fiscal Years 2008 and 2009. The money would help provide safe environments and proper treatment for children exposed to drug production or illegal drug use in the home, particularly meth labs.
“It is a sad fact in America today that hundreds of thousands of children are abandoned, neglected or abused by parents who are addicted to or selling illegal drugs,” Senator Feinstein said.
“This problem is especially severe for children unfortunate enough to be living in homes that doubled as laboratories that produce dangerous drugs, such as methamphetamine.
“We have a duty to do everything that we can to protect these innocent children. This legislation is an important first step at extending a helping hand to these children, who fell into grave danger through no fault of their own.”
Companion legislation introduced by Representative Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced) recently passed the House of Representatives in a 389-4 vote.
This is the latest piece of legislation by Senator Feinstein designed to combat methamphetamine and protect children. Senator Feinstein introduced the Combat Meth Act, co-sponsored by former Senator Jim Talent (R-Mo.), to restrict the sale of ingredients used to produce methamphetamine. It was signed into law by President Bush in March 2006.
Senator Feinstein has also introduced legislation, co-sponsored by Senator Grassley, to penalize dealers who sell candy-flavored methamphetamine to children. Also, the Senate on February 11 passed legislation introduced by Senator Feinstein to ensure that retailers are in compliance with the Combat Meth Act.
Also, the Senate on April 1 approved the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act, introduced by Senator Feinstein and Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), to prohibit the sale of controlled substances over the Internet without a valid prescription, and to shut down rogue online pharmacies.
Feinstein’s legislation recognizes the fact that methamphetamine has become a major threat to America’s children:
- More than 1.6 million children live in homes where at least one person abuses illicit drugs, including methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, or prescription drugs, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
- Children are found at 20% of all meth lab seizures, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
- 40 percent of child welfare officials nationwide report an increase in child welfare cases caused directly by methamphetamine abuse, according to the National Association of Counties.
- In Merced County alone, nearly 70 percent of foster care cases are meth-related.
Following is a summary of the Drug Endangered Children Act:
The Drug Endangered Children Act (S.1210) would reauthorize funding of a program that was first authorized in 2006 as part of the USA PATRIOT Reauthorization Act.
It would specifically authorize $20 million for Fiscal Years 2008 and 2009 for grants to states to carry out programs that provide comprehensive services to aid children who have lived in homes in which methamphetamine or other controlled substances were unlawfully manufactured, distributed, dispensed, or used.
The legislation requires the Attorney General to ensure that services financed with these grants include:
- Coordination among law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, child protective services, social services, health care services, and any other services determined to be appropriate by the Attorney General to provide assistance; and
- Transition of children from toxic or drug-endangering environments to appropriate residential environments.