oh-myyy-ribbon

The Number of Children in Foster Care Is Surging and It Should Concern Us All

A serious young girl backlit by sunlight in a dark room. (Getty)

If it feels like opioid abuse has reached crisis levels in your city or community, you’re not wrong: America’s current rate of opioid addiction is now the biggest drug epidemic in national history. Nearly 500,000 people have died from overdoses in the past 15 years, mostly from heroin and related substances — prompting the president to declare opioid addiction a national public health emergency in October.

It’s no secret drug abuse strains state and community resources such as hospitals, clinics and jails, but one trend should have Americans particularly disturbed: The growing number of kids in foster care.


According to federal data released last month, the number of children in the U.S. foster care system has increased for the fourth year in a row, with 34 percent of placements in 2016 directly due to parental drug use, up from 32 percent in 2015.

The federal report, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, states that 437,500 children were in foster care as of Sept. 30, 2016, up from about 427,400 the previous year.

“The continued trend of parental substance abuse is very concerning, especially when it means children must enter foster care as a result,” said Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary for children and families at ACF, in a release. “The seriousness of parental substance abuse, including the abuse of opioids, is an issue we at HHS will be addressing through prevention, treatment and recovery-support measures.”

While all but a handful of states saw increases in foster care placements, Indiana, Florida, Georgia and West Virginia topped the list, with 0.2 percent of the latter’s population in the foster care system in 2014.

“It’s pretty much every state — except maybe four or five — that have seen an increase in the number of children in foster care,” John Sciamanna, vice president of public policy at the Child Welfare League of America, told The Washington Post. “What you are seeing now is just a straining of the system.”

Also on the rise is the number of infants born addicted to drugs. The rate has quadrupled in the past 15 years, and because medical studies have shown these children to be at an increased risk for behavior problems and learning disabilities, their placement often requires a specially licensed foster home with caregivers that have received specific training. For states already struggling with a dearth of available homes, the strain can be overwhelming; babies often spend months in the hospital.

“They are not bonding with who is going to raise them,” Tina Persinger, director of Calhoun County’s Family Resource Network in West Virginia told Ozy. “It’s very dangerous, and very costly to the system.”

The roots of the opioid crisis began in the 1990s when powerful painkillers like OxyContin were heavily marketed toward doctors as a non-addictive panacea for pain conditions. They were prescribed widely and often, but patients became both addicted to and developed a tolerance for the medication, causing them to turn to heroin — and, of late, fentanyl — when their prescription ran out or they needed something stronger. The increased demand for heroin caused an increase in supply in the underground drug market, and soon heroin was both easier to obtain and less expensive than the original painkillers.

“No part of our society — not young or old, rich or poor, urban or rural — has been spared this plague of drug addiction and this horrible, horrible situation that’s taken place with opioids,” said Mr. Trump in his October emergency declaration. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates viable solutions to the opioid crisis, including telemedicine and naloxone distribution, will cost up to $78.5 billion.

So far, the Trump administration has allocated $57,000.

“This was an idea that I had, where if we can teach young people not to take drugs,” Trump said in his address, “it’s really, really easy not to take them.”

Blaze TV

Continuing a steady slide to the right since her tenure as President Donald Trump's United Nations ambassador, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is under heat for recent comments regarding the Confederate flag.

The comments came during an interview with far-Right Blaze TV host Glenn Beck.

Keep reading... Show less
Fox News

Former Vice President and current 2020 Presidential candidate Joe Biden erupted at a man during an Iowa town hall who accused him of actively working to get his son Hunter a board position on the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings. Biden called the man a "damn liar" before challenging him to pushups.

Republicans seized on the moment as an opportunity to discredit Biden as a candidate, but Fox and Friends cohost Ainsley Earhardt's reaction may be the most deluded yet.

Keep reading... Show less
Bryan Woolston/Getty Images // @parscale/Twitter

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has repeatedly made clear that, after President Donald Trump solicited Ukrainian leaders to announce investigations that personally benefitted him, the decision to launch impeachment proceedings wasn't a political maneuver, but a constitutional mandate.

The move came after years of Trump's supporters, as well as some critics, insisted that impeachment would be political suicide for the Democrats.

Since shortly after the inquiry's announcement in September, support for impeachment outweighed its oppositon as more revelations surfaced of Trump's dealings with Ukraine, but his 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale attempted to show that Pelosi's move to impeach would lose Democrats their House majority.

Keep reading... Show less
CNN

Shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that representatives would begin drafting articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy took the podium to defend the President and the Republican party as a whole.

It could've gone better.

Keep reading... Show less
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images // MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

One day after the House Judiciary Committee's hearing on impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) held a press conference announcing that the House would begin drafting articles of impeachment, with a possible floor vote as soon as Christmas.

The press conference signaled the beginning of the end of the impeachment inquiry in the House.

Keep reading... Show less
Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee, in its public impeachment hearing against President Donald Trump on Wednesday, consulted four constitutional scholars for greater insight to the legal implications of the President's Ukraine scandal—and whether they merit impeachment.

Three witnesses, called by Democrats, each made compelling arguments for the articles of impeachment with which Trump could be charged.

George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley—invited by Republicans—was the lone dissenter.

Keep reading... Show less