The number of foster children whose parents were using or making methamphetamine is rising rapidly in some states, reports the New York Times. Oklahoma last year became the first state to ban over-the-counter sales of cold medicines that contain the key ingredient needed to make methamphetamine. Even so, the number of foster children in the state is up 16 percent from a year ago. In Kentucky, the numbers are up 12 percent. Similar problems are reported in Oregon and Tennessee.
Methamphetamine is mostly a rural phenomenon, and it has created virtual orphans in areas without social service networks to support them. Officials say methamphetamine’s particularly potent and destructive nature and the way it is often made in the home conspire against child welfare unlike any other drug. The Drug Enforcement Administration says that over the last five years 15,000 children were found at laboratories where methamphetamine was made. That number may vastly understate the problem because it does not include children whose parents use methamphetamine but do not make it and because it relies on incomplete state reporting. The National Association of Counties says that 40 percent of child welfare officials surveyed nationwide said that methamphetamine had caused a rise in the number of children removed from homes.