NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As the statewide coordinator for the Tennessee Alliance for Drug Endangered Children (TADEC), Tabatha Curtis sees first-hand the negative effects drug dependency has on entire families.
“They’re growing up in environmental chaos. The lack of necessities for these children, and I’m talking about your basic necessities food, clothing, and shelter may not be there,” Curtis says.
Oftentimes, helpless children are left to fend for themselves. “If you’re not sober and clean, your priority is not watching over your child,” she says.
The growing problem became apparent in 2006, during the Methamphetamine epidemic. That’s when TADEC was formed as part of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, Dangerous Drugs Task Force.
“It kind of lost momentum along the way, and there wasn’t any funding for it,” explains Curtis.
Then in 2018, the organization received a one million dollar grant that brought new hope to the program and a renewed focus.
“The support from the grant that we received helped us tremendously to really rally the troops together.”
The group developed half a dozen task forces across the state. Four are located right here in Middle Tennessee.
“When we talk about what are these response teams doing, they’re responding to the needs of the children and the families,” Curtis says.
They address everything from food, clothes, shelter, to mental health, and rehabilitation just to name a few.
“Our role is not to look at removing the children,” Curtis says, “We are resource and referral and are trying to be the linkage in the community for these children and their families.”
In the past three years, the program has helped hundreds of families.
“We’re seeing great success all across the state of Tennessee. And, I’m talking about from West, Middle, and East.”
Funding is again coming to an end. “September 30th is the final year of funding for that, however, we are in the process of writing for another grant,” explains Curtis.
She is hopeful another influx of money will allow TADEC to create six additional task forces during a time it’s needed most.
“I don’t know that it will ever be over. You see, substance abuse issues [are] a generational cycle a lot of times, but we have to be positive and think the work that we’re doing is changing the trajectory of these children’s lives.”
Showing them, Curtis continues, life doesn’t have to be this way.