Report: Opioid Crisis Linked To Increase In Children Needing Foster Care

Jun 13, 2018

A report from a non-profit group is blaming the opioid crisis for a rise in children whose parents have substance abuse problems entering foster care.
Credit Eric Norriss / Flickr Creative Commons

A non-profit advocacy group says children whose parents have a history of substance abuse are entering foster care at a higher rate. 

The report from N.C. Child cites the state Department of Health and Human Services, which says nearly 40 percent of children who go into foster care are there because of parental substance abuse. That's up from 26 percent a decade ago.

The analysis blames the trend on the increase in opioid-related overdoses and fatalities. Children in these households are more than twice as likely to develop a dependence on drugs or alcohol, according to N.C. Child Research Director Whitney Tucker.

“It becomes this sort of cycle, unless there are interventions, that a lot of the time kids who grew up in households where their parents have these substance abuse problems also end up having substance problems of their own,” Tucker said.

Tucker says the trend follows the rise in opioid overdoses, but the numbers also include parents who abuse other substances like alcohol.

“What we've seen is a pattern emerging,” she said. “While there is no way currently in the way that they report entrance into foster care to identify exactly what substance it is, we're seeing this rise at the same time that we're seeing the rise in opioid use and opioid deaths.”

Tucker said the statistics suggest the need for more health insurance coverage for drug prevention and rehabilitation programs.