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U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles will announce Thursday that a statewide alliance implementing a drug-endangered children’s program, begun in Orangeburg County, is going statewide.

Nettles said the new S.C. Drug Endangered Children Guidelines as drafted will coordinate a multidisciplinary response to protect children removed from drug environments who are in danger of physical, mental and emotional abuse as well as exposure to the use of firearms, violence or other dangerous items associated with drug manufacturing and distribution.

“This is yet another progressive program instituted by our office assembling a broad-based coalition to make the citizens of South Carolina safer and healthier and break the circle of violence,” Nettles said.

The pilot program was started by Nettles two years ago in Orangeburg County with the assistance of First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe.

He said he chose Orangeburg as a testing ground for the program because of the number of resources available in the area. The goal was to pool those resources to fill the void that left children nowhere to go if their parents or guardians were taken away from their family on drug-related charges.

Typically, a child whose guardian had been arrested would go into foster care without any remedial treatment. Authorities say a large percentage of drug-endangered children then leave foster care only to follow in their parents’ footsteps.

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That is the key to the program — to show those youths that there is an alternative to the only life some of them have ever known.

A press conference is being held Thursday in coordination with Sen. Mike Fair; Catherine Templeton, director of S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control; S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson; and Orangeburg Department of Public Safety Chief Wendell Davis.

Other agencies expected to have representatives on hand include the University of South Carolina’s Children’s Law Center; the State Law Enforcement Division; the S.C. Crime Victims Counsel and the state Department of Social Services.

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