Foster Care and the Opioid Crisis – Florida

Opioid epidemic could be stressing foster-care system, study says, By Naseem S. Miller, January 10, 2018, Orlando Sentinel: “A new study shows that the increase in opioid prescription rates in Florida may have had a role in the higher rate of kids being removed from their homes, putting more stress on the state’s foster care system and highlighting the shortage of foster parents…”

Foster Care System – Kentucky, Ohio

  • Lawmakers back big changes to Kentucky’s adoption and foster care system, but do they have the money?, By Deborah Yetter, December 19, 2017, Louisville Courier Journal: “A group of state legislators on Tuesday recommended broad changes meant to improve Kentucky’s adoption and foster care system, wrapping up eight months of study of a system critics say is overburdened, underfunded and plagued with frustrating delays. The group’s goal is to improve services for abused and neglected children and help streamline foster care and adoption if the child can’t return home. But many of the changes would be costly, and members acknowledged extra money will be in short supply as the General Assembly prepares to draft a new budget in 2018…”
  • Number of Ohio foster children rising fast during opioid crisis, By Rita Price, December 21, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “A thousand more Ohio children are in foster care this Christmas than last, and advocates say the epidemic of opioid addiction is on track to overwhelm the state’s county-based system of child protection…”

Child Welfare System

  • Opioid crisis strains foster system as kids pried from homes, By Matt Sedensky and Meghan Hoyer (AP), December 12, 2017, ABC News: “The case arrives with all the routine of a traffic citation: A baby boy, just 4 days old and exposed to heroin in his mother’s womb, is shuddering through withdrawal in intensive care, his fate now here in a shabby courthouse that hosts a parade of human misery.  The parents nod off as Judge Marilyn Moores explains the legal process, and tests arrive back showing both continue to use heroin. The judge briefly chastises, a grandmother sobs, and by the time the hearing is over, yet another child is left in the arms of strangers because of his parents’ addiction…”
  • Data mining program designed to predict child abuse proves unreliable, DCFS says, By David Jackson and Gary Marx, December 6, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is ending a high-profile program that used computer data mining to identify children at risk for serious injury or death after the agency’s top official called the technology unreliable.

Health Care and Social Services

Study: States get big Medicaid savings from social services, outreach to sickest patients, By Jayne O’Donnell, December 5, 2017, USA Today: “Some states have achieved dramatic savings in health care costs for their sickest Medicaid patients by providing intensive one-on-one assistance and social services that help the patients better address their multiple, overlapping ailments…”

US Children in Foster Care

  • Number of American children in foster care increases for 4th consecutive year, By Richard Gonzales, November 30, 2017, National Public Radio: “A new government report says the number of children in the U.S. foster care system has increased for the fourth year in a row, due largely to an uptick in substance abuse by parents. The report, issued annually by the Administration for Children and Families of the Department of Health and Human Services, shows that 437,500 children were in foster care by the end of fiscal year 2016. A year earlier the number was 427,400…”
  • More US kids in foster care; parental drug abuse a factor, By David Crary (AP), November 30, 2017, ABC News: “The number of children in the U.S. foster care system has increased for the fourth year in a row, with substance abuse by parents a major factor, according to new federal data released on Thursday. The annual report from the Department of Health and Human Services counted 437,500 children in foster care as of Sept. 30, 2016, up from about 427,400 a year earlier…”

Gazette Series on Iowa Foster Care System

  • Iowa’s foster care system pushes to reunite children with their birthparents, By Molly Duffy and Michaela Ramm, November 27, 2017, The Gazette: “Breanne French had been caring for the baby boy, whose bloodcurdling screaming fits finally had started to dissipate, for nine months when the Iowa Department of Human Services gave him back to his birth mother. The 11-month-old child had spent most of his life in one of two places: with Breanne, a licensed foster parent, and in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids. His birth mother was in a rehabilitation facility for heroin use when she went into labor, and for the first two months of his life, doctors and nurses were weaning him off the drug…”
  • Unknowns of temporarily caring for children in foster care means Iowa’s foster parents feel ‘every emotion’, By Molly Duffy, November 27, 2017, The Gazette: “When children like Nicolas are removed from their birth families, the Iowa Department of Human Services often places them with adults who are, to the children, little more than strangers. But by the time a child is given to licensed foster parents, state agents have spent months digging into their pasts…”
  • Iowa’s social workers see growing foster care caseloads, By Michaela Ramm, November 27, 2017, The Gazette: “As a social worker and a foster parent, Emily Steeples sees foster care’s shortcomings up close. Steeples is a foster and adoptive family connections specialist for Four Oaks in Cedar Rapids, which provides support for families across most of the state. She and her spouse, Krista Kronstein, 36, also have been foster parents since 2015…”
  • Most children in Iowa’s foster care system reunite with their birthparents, some never find their way back, By Molly Duffy, November 27, 2017, The Gazette: “After the state moved Nicolas back into the care of his birth mother, Breanne French tried to accept he wasn’t hers to keep. After nine months of taking care of the baby boy as a foster care placement, his birth mother was in recovery from drug addiction and passing drug tests. Although the Iowa Department of Human Services had returned Nicolas to her, social workers still were involved with the birth mother and her baby, but they were making progress together…”

Aging Out of Foster Care – Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee advances tiny homes plan for young adults leaving foster care, By Mary Spicuzza, September 11, 2017,  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Three dozen ‘tiny homes’ would be built for — and with the help of — teens aging out of foster care, under a plan that advanced Monday at City Hall. As many as 36 tiny homes would be built near E. Capitol Drive and N. Humboldt Blvd. through a partnership with developer Gorman & Co., Pathfinders Milwaukee Inc. and the Milwaukee County Housing Division…”

Community Paramedic Program

These house calls save money for EMS, social services, By Robert Mittendorf, September 4, 2017, Bellingham Herald: “Bellingham Fire Capt. Jeff Brubaker carries a pager like any other firefighter, and he still uses his paramedic skills to help people. But these days he’s not riding a fire engine or an ambulance and most of his patients haven’t called 911. Not as much as they used to, at least. Brubaker is Bellingham Fire Department’s community paramedic, a relatively new position that puts him in touch with people who are frequent 911 callers but who don’t need emergency care…”

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…”

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…”

Southern Illinoisan Series on Child Welfare

Protecting the Innocent: Southern Illinois combats high rates of child abuse in region, series homepage, April 2017, The Southern Illinoisan: “In many counties throughout Southern Illinois, the child abuse rates are double, triple or nearly quadruple that of the statewide rate. In recognition of April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month, The Southern will publish a story every day this month to bring further awareness to the problem, and highlight the efforts of those working diligently to combat it throughout the region. The newspaper’s mission is to be an advocate for positive change, and with this series, our goal is to do our part alongside the many others throughout Southern Illinois working to protect our children and strengthen families…”

Refugee Resettlement – North Dakota

Federal funds give refugees a start, but communities offer local safety net, By Andrew Haffner, March 28, 2017, Grand Forks Herald: “When she’s not behind the counter at Al Amin Grocery in Grand Forks, Ilhaam Hassan is helping fellow members of the local Somali refugee community find their way in a new land. Hassan, a native of Somalia, came to the U.S. in 1999 when she was just a child. Now in her early 30s, Hassan’s fluency in English has opened a role for her as an interpreter with the local office of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, the agency tasked with resettling refugees, many of whom are Somalis, in the state’s most populous cities: Fargo, Bismarck and Grand Forks. With her own passage a distant memory, Hassan now works with those refugees from Somalia who now find themselves in northeast North Dakota. Even with help from the federal government and local civic groups, she says the transition is difficult for new arrivals…”

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…”

Homelessness in Orange County, CA

Price tag of homelessness in Orange County is nearly $300 million, UCI study finds, By Theresa Walker, March 8, 2017, Orange County Register: “Orange County would save $42 million a year in health care, law enforcement and other expenses by placing people who chronically live on the streets into housing, according to a first-ever countywide study of the costs of homelessness.  The study, conducted by UC Irvine researchers and released in summary form Tuesday, aimed to pinpoint how much money was spent on services and other costs related to homelessness during a 12-month period in 2014-15 by local cities, the county and non-governmental agencies. Overall, the price tag came to about $299 million, with the lion’s share – roughly $120 million – borne by the 34 cities that comprise the county…”

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…”

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…”