US needs more foster homes as number of kids hit by drug epidemic continues to rise

US needs more foster homes as number of kids hit by drug epidemic continues to rise

The United States is in the grip of a drug epidemic, and the repercussions are being increasingly felt by child welfare agencies, causing a strain on their resources. The Wall Street Journal states that increasing cases of drug abuse by parents, especially involving heroin and prescription painkillers, is straining the welfare agencies across the nation and sending more children into foster care.

Public child welfare agencies manage child protection investigation and family-centered services, and support foster care and adoption. When a call is made to report a situation of child abuse and/or neglect in their households, the local designated child protective services agency verifies if the report is genuine or not, investigates it further by gathering evidence about child’s health, schooling and interactions within the family, and then, based on the outcome of that investigation, decides on a course of action. The first step is providing information on treatment.

Children found to be abused or neglected can continue to stay in their home if there is another caregiver not using drugs, but the situation is monitored regularly. In the case of children who are assessed as being unsafe, out-of-home care is arranged. To begin with, such care is nearly always considered to be a provisional solution and the parents are provided an opportunity to change their behavior and living environment making it safe for the returning child.

Need for more foster homes and foster parents to save young lives

Since relapses occur frequently in cases of drug-dependent parents trying to detox, children in such families often end up being in foster care for years. According to the Administration for Children and Families (a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), the number of children in the foster care system has increased exponentially. The department released a distressing statistic – the number of children in foster care increased in 2015 for the third year in a row.

While the number of children who are in this system as a direct result of their parents’ substance use problems has not been specifically measured, authorities believe that opioid addiction is most probably contributing to the rise. Reports involving alleged drug use or drug dealing in a home with children are coming in with alarming regularity across the country. In most cases of heroin addiction, the need to earn money for drugs takes precedence over everything else, including looking after families and children.

Experts are of the opinion that the epidemic is further being fueled by over-prescription of pain pills and a cheap and abundant supply of illegal drugs. In most cases, parents end up neglecting their children (even if there is no abuse), necessitating the intervention of child welfare agencies. If the social workers deem that the house is unfit, the court decides whether the children should be put in foster care or with other family members.

Cases of drug overdose deaths, both in case of parents and children and surviving parents’ inability to provide a congenial environment, have necessitated opening up new foster homes or finding people who would want to extend a helping hand by becoming foster parents. Children under the age of one year are most likely in need to be placed in better homes.

Seek help to get rid of addiction

Drug abuse can and does destroy lives and tears families apart. And, as with all instances of substance abuse, it is nearly impossible to quit without professional help. Withdrawal symptoms can be immensely difficult to deal with, and therefore, frequent relapses are a common occurrence. People addicted to drugs need medical intervention to help them lead a sober life.

If you’re looking for reputed drug rehabilitation centers in California, contact the 24/7 California Drug Addiction Helpline. You can call at 855-980-1946, or chat online with our experts for information on the best and professionally managed addiction treatment centers in California.