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.

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…”

Child Welfare System – Arizona

Arizona’s foster care boards don’t look like their communities. Here’s why that matters, By Maria Polletta, November 12, 2017, Arizona Republic: “Experts have long recognized inequalities in America’s child-welfare system: When kids share identical circumstances except for race, black and Native American children enter foster care more often, spend more time in the system and wait longer to be adopted. In an attempt to ensure fair treatment for kids taken from their parents, Arizona lawmakers decades ago mandated that Foster Care Review Boards — which help decide the fates of children in foster care — mirror the races, ethnicities and income levels of the communities they serve.  They don’t…”

Relatives Caring for Foster Children

  • Grandparents raising grandkids grapple with retirement and college costs at the same time, By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, October 22, 2017, Washington Post: “Each month, 72-year-old Sandra Bursch withdraws $4,200 from her retirement savings to cover her bills. A chunk of it goes toward paying college bills — for her grandson Gage. She anticipates doing the same for Gage’s younger brother, Mason, when he graduates from high school in another year. Every stitch of their clothing, all of their meals and day-to-day expenses have been her responsibility since 2003, when drug use by her daughter and son-in-law prompted the police to remove the children from their home…”
  • ‘It’s like a tsunami’: Opioid epidemic pushes kids into foster care, By Sandra Tan, October 22, 2017, Buffalo News: “The opioid epidemic is not just killing hundreds of local residents  – it’s leaving hundreds of Erie County children without a home or at risk of being removed from one. They are orphaned children and they are the children of drug-addicted parents no longer able to care for them. Erie County Family Court Judge Lisa Bloch Rodwin has presided at thousands of child abuse and neglect cases since 2011. She can’t recall any cases related to opioid drug abuse four years ago, and only a handful three years ago…”

Foster Care Payments to Relatives – Kentucky

State working out how to pay relatives who provide foster care under recent court decision, By Deborah Yetter, October 17, 2017, Louisville Courier-Journal: “Kentucky’s top human services official said Tuesday that the state will comply with a court order to pay relatives who provide free foster care the same as they do licensed foster families. But Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said the cabinet is still analyzing how to apply the court decision. ‘Our legal team is studying it,’ she said in a brief interview. The court decision comes as a growing number of relatives, many of them grandparents, are caring for children removed from homes because of abuse or neglect and say the extra costs have caused them to burn through retirement savings and raise the children in poverty…”

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…”

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…”

Extended Foster Care – California

Youths in foster system get care until age 21, but struggles persist, By Nina Agrawal, August 12, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Eric Usher dreams of working as an audio producer, driving his friends around in a Maserati and living by the beach. But most importantly, Usher says, he looks forward to being independent. ‘I won’t have any system support, and I’ll be living on my own,’ is how he describes it. For now, Usher must content himself with a spare ground-floor apartment a few miles from downtown L.A…”

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…”