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Working with Victim Advocates in Drug Endangered Children (DEC) Efforts

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2020
1 page

This brief publication of the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children (DEC) provides guidelines for working with victim advocates.


This publication issued by National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children (DEC) provides guidance for working with victim advocates in situations where children are endangered by drugs. Victim advocates are specifically trained to support victims of crime, and often children and families are considered victims. Therefore, victim advocates can provide these children and families with a variety of information, support, resources, and assistance. Some victim advocates are paid positions, and some are volunteers. Victim advocates may also be called victim service providers, victim/witness coordinators, or victim/witness specialists. Children are often the first impacted by a parent or caregiver’s use/overdose/death, yet they are often not identified and helped. And they may have little resources for assistance and little support. Victim advocates can assist them. Depending on the laws and policies, the advocates may also help provide details about the plans and actions the child and caretakers are taking, where they can be located and any additional pieces of information about the environment that have been shared with them by the child and caretaker. They can also pass relevant information about the case on to the family. Many jurisdictions also have court appointed advocates that assist the courts in recommending what is best for the children. These advocates are called Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Victim advocates’ responsibilities vary depending on their job description and what discipline they may be housed under. Typically, advocates can provide: crisis intervention; assistance with Crime Victims Compensation application and funding; emotional support; information on the criminal justice process; information on the civil justice process; assistance in navigating systems; information on available services; referrals for victim services; assistance at the scene of crimes; assistance finding shelter and transportation; and assistance in gathering information and making recommendations. Victim advocates are a valuable resource for DEC efforts.