Rising parent drug abuse is leading more kids into foster care

More children are entering into foster care because of their parents’ drug use and them overdosing. It is another fallout from the opioid epidemic.

“A large majority of them are because of substance abuse,” said Jackie Stephens, executive director of Child Advocacy Center. “It’s a tremendous problem.”

In Collier County, there has been an increase in foster kids because their parents are abusing drugs. Stephens said there are many repercussions of a child being in an unsafe environment.

“They need to be in a safe environment,” Stephens said, “or the parent needs to really think about what they’re doing and work very hard towards solving the problem.”

Stephens told WINK News the rate these children are coming into foster care is concerning. She said 22% of cases are for parental substance abuse; 4% for drug endangerment; and 2% are infants born with a drug dependency. Some babies born to mothers who used opioids while pregnant may experience neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Stephens said this is tough on a child.

“To be sitting there not knowing what’s going on to their parents,” Stephens said, “it’s really very difficult.”

Counselors observe and evaluate the parent and child multiple times before allowing them to go back home. The goal is to make sure the child does not have to face more trauma.

“What we have to remember is that’s still the parents of that child,” Stephens said. “It’s that child’s family. They love that person and this is the home that they know.”

Reporter:Jerrica Valtierra
Writer:Michael Mora
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