The opioid crisis is taking its toll on children. According to a report by the Associated Press, tens of thousands of children are being removed from their homes and placed in the foster care system. New foster care cases involving parents using drugs hit the highest point in more than three decades of record-keeping. This accounts for 92,000 children entering the system in 2016, according to data by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That’s one-third of the 274,000 children who entered foster care in the U.S. last year. A 32 percent spike in drug-related foster care cases was seen in the country from 2012 to 2016.
Many children lose their parents to overdose deaths, and are subsequently orphaned. Parents struggling with addiction face losing permanent custody of their children. When a child enters foster care, a federal law puts a timeline on the length parents have to comply with a court order for them to get clean. If a child has been in foster care for 15 out of the previous 22 months, parental rights can be terminated. Some parents, who can’t or are unwilling to get clean, voluntarily relinquish their rights to their children. What happens to these innocent children?
Child welfare officials often look to other family members in which to place a young child. Grandparents across the country are raising children late in life because of their own child’s addiction. The opioid crisis is known to paralyze two or more generations in a single family. In some cases, this complicates efforts to keep a child with their biological relatives, and foster care is necessary.
Babies are exposed to opioids through their mother’s drug use during pregnancy. When this occurs the babies are often born with a condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome. The babies can go through an agonizing withdrawal that is made clear by a distinctive high-pitched cry, tremors in the arms and legs, and difficulty sleeping. These babies are often born premature and underweight, and their mothers’ drug use increases their risk for exposure to hepatitis and HIV. Around the U.S., hospital clinicians are testing newborns for drug exposure. Official are often involved when babies test positive. In many cases, babies enter the foster care system in their very first days.
Serenity Oaks Wellness Center is a 5-week extensive treatment program to help someone who is struggling from drugs or alcohol. Our 12-Step aspects and holistic therapy combined can show you how to adorn your soul in recovery.
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