Rise in Opiate Abuse (and Incarceration for Same) Attributed to Spike in Foster Care
Date:  10-13-2015

Several states look toward treatment options and support services to keep families intact
Opiate abuse, particularly when it comes to heroin addiction, has become a crisis across America. States are scrambling to devise effective ways to cut to the quick the scourge of heroin addiction that is killing citizens and is responsible for millions of dollars in law enforcement, medical care, and collateral costs.

Pew Charitable Trusts reports on one collateral cost to the opiate addiction epidemic—the lives of children who are taken from their parents and placed in foster care. No one wants to see a child neglected while a parent is using drugs, but the simple “solution” of placing children in foster care while incarcerating a parent or otherwise penalizing a parent with the medical issue of addiction will not solve the problem.

Pew states that, “…kicking a drug habit—particularly when the drug is heroin—can be a lifelong battle,” and goes on to relate that federal law allows for a child in foster care to be adopted after being in foster care for 15 consecutive months, or any 15 out of 22 months. People with an addiction often need more than 15 months to turn their lives around, and punishing them by terminating their parental rights while they are trying to do so is unconscionable. People who are incarcerated on drug charges during the mandated 15 out of 22 months timeframe are often helpless in fighting to retain custody of their children.

States such as Ohio, Indiana and Vermont are thinking outside the box in devising ways to protect children by helping the parents access addiction treatment programs and also to obtain other services with the intention of keeping their children out of foster care and establishing a safe, drug-free home environment.

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