Hundreds, if not thousands, of children in Iowa are believed to be in homes where there’s illegal drug use. A meeting today in Altoona will to address the matter. Steve Palmer, with the Polk County Attorney’s Office, is coordinator of the Drug Endangered Children Conference. He says a host of professionals and volunteers will learn how to spot and possibly rescue kids that are exposed to drug use by a parent or caregiver.

"We target law enforcement, human services, county attorneys, medical and mental health, and substance and treatment personnel. We’re also targeting school based programs this year with counselors," Palmer said. Last year’s inaugural conference was focused on 16 DEC alliances in central Iowa, but Palmer says there are attendees from around the state this year. He says individuals can get information about starting a DEC alliance in their county.

Palmer says there will be a session focused on obtaining grants to start a DEC program. The issue of kids being exposed to drugs received heightened attention when meth labs started popping up around Iowa. Palmer says protecting kids from those dangerous environments will take cooperation from a host of state and local agencies and volunteers.

"We don’t want to miss children, so that’s why we’re bringing everyone together to try and target those areas that we may be missing," Palmer said. Today’s DEC conference runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Meadows Events Center in Altoona.