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…”

Aging Out of Foster Care – Kansas

Kansas teens can face bumpy road as they ‘age out’ of foster care system, By Megan Hart, June 27, 2017, High Plains Public Radio: “Aubri Thompson has already had her share of challenges by age 21: She left the foster care system without a designated caregiver, lived without a steady home for more than a year and became a single parent before finishing college. Thompson lived in the Kansas foster care system from age 14, when she was reported as a runaway, until she ‘aged out’ at 18. During that time, she moved 21 times, staying in foster homes, group homes and mental health treatment facilities…”

Foster Care Shelters – California

Chronicle investigation spurs calls to close foster care shelters, By Karen de Sá, Joaquin Palomino, and Cynthia Dizikes, May 22, 2017, San Francisco Chronicle: “The state attorney general’s office is looking into hundreds of dubious arrests at California’s shelters for abused and neglected children that were detailed last week in a San Francisco Chronicle investigative report. The attorney general’s response comes amid calls from judges, state lawmakers and youth lawyers to consider shutting down shelters where children as young as 8 have been funneled into the criminal justice system for minor incidents…”

Foster Care System – Idaho

‘Every phone call is a trauma.’ Idaho’s foster care system to see a boost in support, By Bill Dentzer, March 10, 2017, Idaho Statesman: “Idaho’s child welfare system, the subject of a legislative performance review released in February, is getting some of the additional resources that state evaluators said were needed to address staff burnout, underserved foster families and other issues.  Safety of children is not an issue and the system is not in crisis, evaluators and foster care workers are quick to note. Caseloads are in fact lower now than they were in 2007, the last time the Legislature’s Office of Performance Evaluation took a look.  But caseload is different from workload…”

Child Welfare System – Idaho

Study: Idaho’s child welfare system overwhelmed, overworked, By Associated Press and Samantha Wright, February 8, 2017, Boise State Public Radio: “State auditors say Idaho’s child welfare system is overwhelmed, with too few foster parents, too heavy caseloads for social workers and not enough infrastructure to hold it all together.  The study from the Legislature’s Office of Performance Evaluations found that the number of foster parents has decreased by 8 percent since 2014, while social workers are dealing with 28 to 38 percent more cases than they can reasonably handle…”

Foster Care – Kentucky

Court: Kentucky must pay relatives who take in foster kids, By Deborah Yetter, February 1, 2017, Courier-Journal: “A federal appeals court has ruled Kentucky must pay relatives who serve as foster parents in the same manner it pays adults who are licensed as foster parents and paid a daily rate.  Friday’s ruling by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals could prove a budget blow to the state’s human services agency, already straining to care for a growing number of children removed from homes because of abuse or neglect…”

Foster Care Program – North Carolina

State law extends foster-care benefits, By Kate Elizabeth Queram, January 25, 2017, News & Record: “A recent change in state law allows children to stay in foster care through the age of 21, a safety net that advocates say can help children continue their education and decrease their likelihood of entering the criminal justice system.  The change, known as the Foster Care 18-to-21 initiative, was passed by the General Assembly in 2015 but did not go into effect until Jan. 1. The legislation tweaks several aspects of the state’s previous foster-care policy, under which children automatically aged out of the system at age 18…”

Foster Care Programs – Florida, Minnesota

  • Florida child welfare system under-performing for foster kids, study finds, By Christopher O’Donnell, January 20, 2017, Tampa Bay Times: “A federal agency has given the Florida Department of Children and Families 90 days to come up with a plan to improve its care of foster kids after a study found the state is underperforming in critical areas…”
  • State pledges $400,000 to shrink number of Indian children in foster care, By Brandon Stahl, January 20, 2017, Star Tribune: “With the number of American Indian children in Minnesota foster care reaching ‘unacceptable’ levels, the state pledged Thursday to spend $400,000 over the next three years to reduce those numbers. The announcement comes after a two-part Star Tribune series last summer found that Minnesota has more American Indian children in foster care than any other state, including those with significantly larger Indian populations…”

US Children in Foster Care

5 states struggle with surging numbers of foster children, By David Crary (AP), November 23, 2016, Wisconsin State Journal: “The number of U.S. children in foster care is climbing after a sustained decline, but just five states account for nearly two-thirds of the recent increase. Reasons range from creation of a new child-abuse hotline to widespread outrage over the deaths of children who’d been repeatedly abused. Addictions among parents are another major factor…”

Foster Care System – Texas

Sweeping reforms recommended for Texas foster care system, By Mike Ward, November 4, 2016, Houston Chronicle: “A pair of special masters on Friday recommended sweeping changes to Texas’ scandal-plagued foster care system, including a ban on housing children in state offices and new limits on group homes.  The numbers of cases assigned to Child Protective Services workers should be cut in half to curb skyrocketing turnover rates and improve supervision, the report states…”

Foster Care System – Massachusetts

8 graphics that show the shape of the foster care system, By Matt Rocheleau, October 18, 2016, Boston Globe: “The number of children in the state foster care system has risen in recent months, prompting state officials to recruit more foster parents.  There were 6,118 children in the state Department of Children and Families foster care system at the end of July, about 9 percent more than the 5,618 a year earlier, according to the agency. At least part of the increase has been attributed to the opioid crisis, which has led to more children being removed from drug-addicted parents, the Globe has reported…”

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…”

Foster Care Systems – Oregon, Arizona

  • New report on Oregon’s foster care system charts solutions, failures, By Hillary Borrud, August 25, 2016, The Oregonian: “An unsparing report spurred by Oregon’s latest foster care scandal identifies fairly obvious remedies for the state’s troubled child welfare system.  But those recommendations, released Thursday and first reported by The Oregonian/OregonLive, also highlight the Department of Human Services’ ongoing failure to adopt solutions identified year after year in previous reviews…”
  • Foster care children aging out of Arizona system need transitional help, By Selena Makrides, August 27, 2016, Arizona Republic: “Jasmine Flores entered the Arizona foster care system when she was 13 years old. She stayed in the system, moving from group home to group home to group home and changing schools along the way.  When she approached her 18th birthday, she began to think about life outside of the state care system. She’s now 19, the proud owner of a car and a thriving college student, after participating in the transitional programs for aging foster youth. Flores’s transition story, though, is not typical for the roughly 800 young adults expected to “age-out” of the foster care system in Arizona in 2016…”

Child Welfare Systems – Arkansas, Arizona

  • Children in foster care in Arkansas reaches all-time high, By Brian Fanney, August 22, 2016, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: “The number of children in foster care has reached an all-time high in Arkansas, straining state officials who have long referred to the growth as a crisis.  But the state has reversed a trend of losing foster families every quarter, according to reports prepared by the Division of Children and Family Services…”
  • Critics say Arizona is cheaping out on child-welfare services, By Mary Jo Pitzl, August 21, 2016, Arizona Republic: “Social-service providers are warning that children could linger longer in foster care if the state of Arizona follows through with a new round of contracts they say will cut rates, lower standards and deter qualified applicants.  The complaints arise as the state is on the verge of awarding new contracts for services the Department of Child Safety insists will get kids out of foster care and into permanent homes more quickly, without increasing costs to the state…”

Aging Out of Foster Care – Indiana

From foster care to first-time homeowners, By Maureen C. Gilmer, July 20, 2016, Indianapolis Star: “As a child, Ronnisha Davis bounced from home to home. She lived with her mom, then in a foster home, then her dad, then another foster home, then an apartment when she was 17.  Today, the 23-year-old is settling into her own house, purchased with ‘sweat equity’ on her part, as well as help from Habitat for Humanity andIndiana Connected By 25. The latter is a nonprofit that partners with United Way, the Department of Child Services and other organizations to support young adults before and after they age out of foster care (age 20 in Indiana). Among its programs are Opportunity Passport, which offers financial literacy classes, a matching savings plan and micro loans to build credit…”

Schools Districts and Students in Foster Care

How children in foster care could benefit from the new federal education law, By Emma Brown, June 23, 2016, Washington Post: “The Obama administration on Thursday released new guidance explaining what states and school districts must do to meet new legal obligations to students in foster care, who are often among the nation’s most vulnerable children. For the first time, schools, districts and states must publicly report on the performance of children in foster care, a requirement that advocates hope will help shine a light on the need for more attention and help…”