Drug-Addiction Epidemic Prompts Big Foster Care Rise

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The nation’s drug-addiction epidemic is causing a dramatic increase in the number of children entering foster care, forcing many states to take urgent steps to care for neglected children, reports Stateline. Several states, such as New Hampshire and Vermont, have either changed laws to make it possible to pull children out of homes where parents are addicted, or have made room in the budget to hire more social workers to deal with the crisis. Other states, such as Alaska, Kansas and Ohio, have issued emergency pleas for more people to become foster parents and take neglected children, many of them infants, into their homes.

“We’re definitely in a crisis, and we don’t see an end in sight any time soon,” said Angela Sausser of the Public Children Services Association of Ohio, a coalition of public child safety agencies. In many states in the East and parts of the Midwest, addiction to opioid painkillers and heroin is helping to drive the foster-care crisis. In other parts of the Midwest and in the West, abuse of methamphetamines is. Regardless of the source, states are scrambling to deal with the fallout on children. In Georgia, where substance abuse is involved 40 percent of the time when children are removed from their family, the system is so overburdened that state child welfare officials have partnered with local church to help foster families with everything from doing laundry to buying a crib.

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