Foster Care and the Opioid Crisis – Indiana

  • Grandparents as parents: Indiana drug epidemic has created challenge for families, By George Myers, September 2, 2017, News and Tribune: “Monica Slonaker knows well the challenges faced by grandparents thrust back into the role of day-to-day guardian; it’s been roughly three-and-a-half years since she took in her own grandchildren. The two girls, her son’s daughters, now ages 3 and 7, were recently adopted by Slonaker and her husband Bill, who are Kokomo residents – a situation, driven by opioid and alcohol abuse, that’s become commonplace across Indiana…”
  • Familiar Faces: Indiana child welfare organizations work to keep children with relatives, By Aprile Rickert, September 5, 2017, News and Tribune: “Child welfare representatives in Southern Indiana and at the state level say that part of the reason more children are in relatives’ care is because of the sheer numbers of children entering the system…”

Opioid Epidemic

New numbers reveal huge disparities in opioid prescribing, By Christine Vestal, August 14, 2017, Stateline: “For most of the last decade, this once thriving city had the highest unemployment rate in Virginia. Its disability and poverty rates are consistently double the state average, and its population is aging. In July, the former textile and furniture manufacturing mecca earned another dubious distinction. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, its drugstores dispense the highest volume of opioid painkillers per capita in the nation…”

Medicaid and Addiction Treatment

How Medicaid cuts could exacerbate the opioid epidemic, By Ronald Brownstein, July 13, 2017, The Atlantic: “When Christie Green took her job three years ago as public-health director for the Cumberland Valley District in southeastern Kentucky, she had nearly two decades of experience in the state’s public-health system. But Green still wasn’t prepared for what she saw when her predecessor took her around this hardscrabble swathe of Appalachia centered on Clay County, which The New York Times once described as the hardest place in the United States to live. ‘In the first week,’ Green recently told me, ‘I met more people who were raising their grandchildren than I had in my entire career before that…’”

Medicaid and Addiction Treatment

Medicaid expansion has delivered access to addiction treatment, report finds, By Sarah Fentem, July 7, 2017, National Public Radio: “This week, as senators have decamped from Washington for the Fourth of July recess, the future of the Senate’s Affordable Care Act replacement plan — and by extension, Medicaid — remains uncertain. Just days before the recess, a report from the Urban Institute, a public policy think tank, detailed big increases in Medicaid spending on opioid addiction treatment under the Affordable Care Act. It’s a trend that could be reversed if the Senate’s plan passes…”

Foster Care and the Opioid Crisis

The opioid crisis is straining the nation’s foster-care systems, By Perry Stein and Lindsey Bever, July 1, 2017, Washington Post: “Deb McLaughlin’s 3-year-old grandson climbed all over her, pleading to play trucks, restless as always. Her 1-year-old foster daughter, who had just woken from a midday nap, sat in her lap, wearing a frilly dress and an irresistible smile. At least McLaughlin doesn’t have to worry about the daily shots of methadone anymore, at least these babies no longer scream and shake for the opioids to which they were born addicted. This isn’t what McLaughlin envisioned for her empty nest years in rural Maine, trading camping and four-wheeling trips for social-worker check-ins, meetings with behavioral therapists and supervised visits with the drug-addicted biological parents who had to give up these children. McLaughlin’s daughter, who once dreamed of being a lawyer, is one of the millions of Americans addicted to opioids and one of thousands of parents whom state governments have deemed unfit to care for their own children…”

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Grandfamilies 1: Grappling with the cost of addiction, By Ella Nilsen, July 1, 2017, Concord Monitor: “In Helene Lorden’s living room, a big, inviting armchair is parked in front of the television. But the 58-year-old grandmother of five rarely gets to sit down and put her feet up. Like thousands of other grandparents in the state, Lorden has custody of her five grandchildren – ages 10 to 18. She has been raising them for over a decade…”

Drug Overdose Deaths and Indigent Burial

Drugs are killing so many people in West Virginia that the state can’t keep up with the funerals, By Christopher Ingraham, March 7, 2017, Washington Post: “Deaths in West Virginia have overwhelmed a state program providing burial assistance for needy families for at least the fifth year in a row, causing the program to be nearly out of money four months before the end of the fiscal year, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR). Funeral directors in West Virginia say the state’s drug overdose epidemic, the worst in the nation, is partly to blame…”

Drug Addiction and Foster Care

Drug-addiction epidemic creates crisis in foster care, By Teresa Wiltz, October 07, 2016, Stateline: “The nation’s drug-addiction epidemic is driving a dramatic increase in the number of children entering foster care, forcing many states to take urgent steps to care for neglected children.  Several states, such as New Hampshire and Vermont, have either changed laws to make it possible to pull children out of homes where parents are addicted, or have made room in the budget to hire more social workers to deal with the emerging crisis…”

Rural Poverty Initiatives

  • Obama administration announces new rural poverty initiatives, By Jackie Mader, February 24, 2016, Education Week: “Rural children living in poverty will receive more attention under several new initiatives announced by the Obama administration during a Tuesday meeting of the White House Rural Council.  The programs will encourage communities to prioritize rural child poverty, offer loans to community development projects in rural areas, and provide funding for a ‘two-generation’ approach to rural poverty…”
  • Fighting poverty and opiate addiction in rural communities, By Lizzie O’Leary, February 24, 2016, Marketplace: “In America’s rural communities, poverty, health and education gaps, and a striking increase in opiate addiction are challenging social services and the budget. News of the increasing numbers of deaths among middle-aged Americans and the high rates of opiate overdoses are in the news, and since 2011, the Obama administration’s Rural Poverty Coalition has been tackling the multi-generational issues that come with providing social services to rural America…”

Medicaid and Substance Abuse Treatment – California

California expands substance abuse treatment for low-income residents, By Anna Gorman, December 11, 2015, National Public Radio: “California is overhauling its substance abuse treatment system for low-income people, embarking on a massive experiment to create a smoother path for addicts from detox through recovery.  The state is the first to receive federal permission to revamp drug and alcohol treatment for beneficiaries of Medicaid, known as Medi-Cal in California. Through what’s known as a drug waiver, state officials will have new spending flexibility as they try to help people get sober and reduce social and financial costs of people with substance abuse disorders…”

Smoking Rates for Poor and Low-Income

U.S. smoking rate declines, but poor remain at higher risk, By Sabrina Tavernise, November 12, 2015, New York Times: “Smoking, the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, continued to decline last year, federal health authorities reported Thursday, with the share of American adults who smoke dropping to 16.8 percent, down from 17.8 percent in 2013.  Smoking has been one of the brightest public health successes of recent history. Nearly half of all Americans smoked in the 1960s, but a broad push against the habit, starting with the surgeon general’s warning in 1964, helped bring rates down. The rate has dropped by about a fifth since 2005, when it was 21 percent.  But the national numbers mask deep trouble spots within the American population…”

Drug Testing and Public Assistance – Maine

With AG’s approval, LePage administration to start drug testing some welfare applicants, By Mario Moretto, January 14, 2015, Bangor Daily News: “After changes were made to protect the state from potential lawsuits, Gov. Paul LePage’s administration is moving forward with a plan to drug test some welfare applicants as a condition of eligibility. The new rule, approved recently by Attorney General Janet Mills, requires applicants convicted of a drug felony in the past 20 years to take a written test designed to determine their risk for further drug use. If the applicant is determined to be at risk, he or she would be required to take a drug test…”

Smoking Rates for Poor and Low-Income

Smoking proves hard to shake among the poor, By Sabrina Tavernise and Robert Gebeloff, March 24, 2014, New York Times: “When smoking first swept the United States in the early decades of the 20th century, it took hold among the well-to-do. Cigarettes were high-society symbols of elegance and class, puffed by doctors and movie stars. By the 1960s, smoking had exploded, helped by the distribution of cigarettes to soldiers in World War II. Half of all men and a third of women smoked. But as evidence of smoking’s deadly consequences has accumulated, the broad patterns of use by class have shifted: Smoking, the leading cause of preventable death in the country, is now increasingly a habit of the poor and the working class…”

Assistance Programs and Drug Testing

Some states still pushing drug testing for welfare, By Jake Grovum, March 6, 2014, Stateline: “From written tests designed to flag drug users to singling out people with recent drug convictions, state lawmakers across the country are pursuing novel strategies to deny welfare benefits to drug users without running afoul of a recent federal court ruling. In December, a federal judge in Florida struck down the state’s drug-test requirement. But almost half the states are considering drug-testing bills designed to withstand legal scrutiny. In Alabama, Indiana and Mississippi, such measures already have advanced by overwhelming majorities…”

Drug Testing and Assistance Programs – Minnesota

Drug tests of welfare recipients prove costly, By Chris Serres, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “A new state law designed to prevent drug users from receiving welfare benefits could end up costing taxpayers far more than it saves, while inadvertently denying assistance to poor families simply because they are unable to comply with its complex paperwork. Like a recent wave of drug-testing laws passed in other states, Minnesota’s legislation was touted as a way to encourage greater responsibility among welfare recipients while saving taxpayers money. But many county officials and advocacy groups say the reality is quite different: The law contains a bevy of costly local mandates and complicated rules that apply to just a tiny fraction of the 167,000 Minnesotans receiving welfare and other cash benefits…”

Drug Testing and Assistance Programs

Drug tests falter as way for states to deny public aid, By Steven Yaccino, October 25, 2013, New York Times: “With safety-net spending under review around the country, proposals to make welfare and unemployment checks contingent on drug testing have become a routine rallying cry in dozens of states. But the impact of drug-testing measures has been limited. Supporters say the tests are needed to protect welfare and unemployment compensation funds as the nation emerges from the recession. But their enactment has often been hampered by legal challenges and the expense of running the programs, which generally uncover relatively few drug users…”

Drug Testing and Assistance Programs – North Carolina

Revised proposal still may deter welfare recipients, By Annalise Frank, July 8, 2013, Charlotte Observer: “An effort to require all welfare recipients to pass a drug test to qualify for benefits that passed the Senate earlier this session has been given a facelift, but advocates for the poor say it’s still an ugly bill. House Bill 392 requires county Social Services employees to do background checks on all applicants for Work First benefits – the state’s welfare program – and food stamps to ensure they’re not parole or probation violators, or have outstanding felony warrants. It also requires drug testing of any Work First recipient suspected of being a drug user. That provision is a step back from a bill the Senate passed in April that required drug testing for all Work First applicants. Worries over the legality of the Senate bill led lawmakers in the House to insert a new version of the testing requirement into the background checks bill…”

Drug Testing and Assistance Programs – Texas

Bill to drug-test welfare applicants approved, By Chuck Lindell, March 26, 2013, Austin American-Statesman: “The Senate Health and Human Services Committee unanimously approved a bill to implement drug testing for welfare applicants after changes were made to ensure that benefits for children would continue despite a positive drug test for a parent. Benefits would be cut off only for the adult who tests positive for drugs, said the bill’s author, Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound. A second positive test would cancel the adult’s benefits for one year, though Temporary Assistance for Needy Families could be reinstated after six months with proof of completion or enrollment in a drug-rehabilitation program. A third drug test would produce a lifetime ban from welfare benefits, Nelson said…”

Public Assistance and Drug Testing

  • Kansas bill requiring drug testing for unemployment, welfare advances, By Brent D. Wistrom, February 25, 2013, Kansas City Star: “State officials would require drug tests of any Kansan they have reason to believe may be using controlled substances and also getting unemployment or welfare benefits under a bill a Senate panel advanced Monday. Under the proposal that is now poised for a vote in the Senate, welfare and unemployment recipients who fail a urine drug test would lose state cash assistance until they complete a substance abuse treatment program and job skills training. They would then be subject to periodic tests…”
  • Indiana House backs drug tests of welfare recipients, By Mary Beth Schneider, February 26, 2013, Indianapolis Star: “Indiana welfare recipients would face drug testing, and the possible loss of benefits if they fail to stick to treatment, under a bill that passed the Indiana House Monday. House Bill 1483, which passed 78-17 and is now headed to the Senate, is part of a growing nationwide movement among states trying to ensure that those who receive tax dollars because they are poor don’t spend them on illegal drugs…”
  • Temporary ban on Fla. welfare drug testing upheld, By James L. Rosica (AP), February 26, 2013, Houston Chronicle: “A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a temporary ban on a law requiring drug testing of Florida’s welfare recipients, prompting Gov. Rick Scott to say he’ll now appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled that a lower court was right to temporarily halt enforcement of the state’s drug-testing program. The opinion said the state of Florida hadn’t shown a ‘substantial special need’ for a mandatory testing program with no suspicion of an individual’s drug use…”

Drug Testing and Assistance Programs – Ohio, Oklahoma

  • Ohio Senate Republicans pass budget bill without controversial drug testing language, By Aaron Marshall, May 16, 2012, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Ohio Senate Republicans dodged one fight Wednesday as they pulled back for now on a controversial proposal to drug test welfare applicants that had advocates for the poor and Democrats ready to rumble.  But another showdown looms as GOP senators approved a $30 million pot of nursing home funding that puts them on a collision course with Republican Gov. John Kasich. As quickly as the drug testing language appeared Tuesday afternoon — slipped into a wide-ranging budget and policy bill — it dropped out of sight Wednesday after GOP Sen. Tim Schaffer of Lancaster offered to remove the it, according to Senate President Tom Niehaus, a Clermont County Republican. After the Senate passed the midterm budget review bill by a vote of 25-8, Niehaus told reporters that Schaffer retreated before questions on the proposal started to fly from Kasich’s office, including how it could be implemented in rural areas without drug testing facilities…”
  • Welfare drug-screening bill is signed into Oklahoma law, By Michael McNutt, May 17, 2012, The Oklahoman: “Welfare recipients who test positive for drugs or refuse to be tested would have their benefits withheld under a bill signed into law Wednesday. The measure makes practices mostly already used by the state Department of Human Services a state law, an agency spokeswoman said. ‘The bill authors worked with us to understand our current process and what we were doing, and we worked with them to find out what the goals were that they wanted to achieve,’ said Sheree Powell, a DHS spokeswoman. ‘It basically puts into law our current practice…'”