According to National Public Radio, more and more kids are being placed into foster homes due to an increase in parental drug use.
New research published in a recent journal states that figures have more than doubled since 2000, which is an extremely worrying statistic. Researchers took data analyzed from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, which focuses on kids in foster care in the U.S. and their circumstances.
They didn't just look at a few hundred cases either, but rather a whopping 5 million instances that occurred between 2000 and 2017.
Among other things, researchers looked at children who were taken from their home environments because of parents who had problems with drugs. As the majority of studies out there focus on the effects drugs have on its users, authors of the study wanted to branch out and look at how the opioid epidemic is affecting children.
One expert, April Dirks, said that these findings don't come as a surprise to her. As welfare worker in the Midwest, Dirks says it simply mirrors what she's seeing on the job - aka families torn apart by addiction. It's a growing cause for concern.
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A staggering 1.2 million of the cases looked at had drug use as the primary cause for taking kids into protective custody. During this period, the numbers simply increased, going from 15% in 2000 to 36% in 2017.
While the cases relating to drug use continued to elevate, other cases to do with abuse and neglect actually declined. Sadly, kids involved in these types of scenarios involving addiction were typically 5 years old or younger.
More than anything researchers hope that the study will bring the worrying effects of the opioid epidemic to the front and center, opening up a much-needed conversation.
Contrary to what some believe, cases involving white, Midwestern and non-urban children are on the up. Armed with this information, the study authors hope that professionals will start to look into what is contributing to this disturbing pattern.
With the foster care service exceedingly overwhelmed, it can be a traumatic experience for children, who ultimately want to be in the loving care of their own parents.