Opioid epidemic linked to uptick of children in foster care

While the number of children in foster care saw years of decline, the opioid epidemic has resulted in a recent increase of kids in foster care, placing a particular burden on the relatives of parents who have died, are incarcerated, in treatment or otherwise unable to care for their children due to drug use.

A new report from Generations United sheds light on the situation and offers strategies to support these nontraditional families. According to the report, the percentage of children in foster care with relatives increased from 24 percent in 2008 to 29 percent in 2014. The majority of these children are being raised by their grandparents.

The report from Generations United entitled "Raising the Children of the Opioid Epidemic: Solutions and Support for Grandfamilies" provides recommendations for the development of federal and state policies designed to support grandfamilies.

"Public policies should better support children and caregivers in grandfamilies inside or outside the formal foster care system. Public policies should also offer services to birth parents of children affected by substance use disorders," said Jaia Peterson Lent, deputy executive director of Generations United. "As a country, it is our moral imperative to provide the support needed to keep children safely with their parents or other family members whenever possible."

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