Just five years ago the United States was looking at some of the lowest foster care numbers they had ever seen; sadly, that number has been back on the rise in large part due to the opioid epidemic. According to Child Trends, around 32% of children who entered foster care in 2015 entered because of parental drug abuse. When looking specifically at the opioid epidemic, addictions aren’t always formed because of illegal uses of drugs like heroin, but sometimes after the use of legal substances like oxycodone, hydrocodone, or morphine.
Parents who are addicted to drugs often end up neglecting their children because of the drugs, whether it be from spending their money on drugs leaving little to none for their child’s needs or forgetting to care for the children while on the drugs. “Those who are using these drugs are often trying to escape their reality, and sadly that includes their children.” explained Colette Scozzafava, the Senior Program Coordinator at CASA of Middlesex. It’s not only the parents who have to deal with symptoms, more children are being born with neonatal abstinence syndrome and are having to deal with withdrawal from the moment they are born. Not to mention the children who are living with parents with a drug addiction are more likely to have sensory disorders, speech delays, and sleep anxieties, and could be in need of therapy or a specially licensed and trained foster family, says the National Institutes of Health.
As reported by the Washington Post, the influx of children entering the foster system within the past two years is largely because of the opioid epidemic. Mrs. Scozzafava explains that “often times with drug abuse parents will get better and get their children back, but then end up relapsing and the children have to go back into the system. How many relapses is too many? Especially since we currently don’t have enough resource families to take in all of the children who need homes.” In almost every state there aren’t enough foster or resource families, social workers have been overloaded with cases, and state budgets are being strained, as stated by the Washington Post.
Foster care systems all over the United States need our help. If you are looking for a way that you can help Foster Coalition put together a list of different ways that you can help children in foster care.