Here's how opioids are taking a toll on kids in foster care

Here are six facts about how opioids are taking their toll.

Number of kids in custody: There are 14,000 Ohio children age 18 and under who are currently in protective custody with a relative, foster family, group home or some other arrangement. About 7,000 were removed because of parental drug problems. In the case of more than 3,900 of those children, the drug being abused was an opioid, such as heroin. The numbers do not include homes where alcohol abuse was the reason for removal of a child.

The length of time: Children's time spent in protective custody is up 19 percent since 2010. That's in part because with opioid addiction, relapse is common. When a relapse occurs, the state has to decide whether to lengthen the custodial stay in hopes of reuniting a child with his or her family or seeking an adoptive family.

The cost of care: As a result of the longer care, counties overall experienced a 17 percent increase in the costs of placing children in foster homes, group homes or residential treatment.

The end result: A couple of Ohio counties reported anecdotally that they experienced more adoptions than reunifications, something that had never happened before, according to Scott Britton, assistant director of the Public Children Services Association

The problem with heroin: It is often hard to find a family member who is not addicted to heroin. Britton said he has heard that opioid addiction is more vile than with other drugs because it has a greater ability to override a parent's instincts to provide basic care to a child.

The money: The state allocation for protective care services to counties has held flat at around $45 million since 2010. While there is other money from other areas that can be using for protective services, the $45 million is the only dedicated funding stream. Many counties, including Cuyahoga and Summit, use specific property taxes to pay for services.

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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