Foster care system flooded with children amid opioid epidemic: 5 things to know

Brian Zimmerman - Print  | 

The opioid epidemic has contributed to a dramatic increase in the number of children in foster care over last two years, according to The Washington Post.

Here are five things to know.

1. Many of the children who end up in foster care are born with neonatal abstinence syndrome.

2. In 2012, the number of U.S. children in foster care hit a modern low of 397,000. By 2015, that number increased to 428,000. While there is no hard data available at the national level, foster care experts cited by the Post say this figure continued to surge over the last two years as the opioid epidemic intensified.

3. In Maine, there were more than 1,800 children in foster care in 2016, which marks a 45 percent increase since 2011.

4. The foster care population in Ohio has increased nearly 10 percent in recent years, with more than 60 percent of children placed in the system due to parental drug abuse.

5. "It's pretty much every state — except maybe four or five — that have seen an increase in the number of children in foster care," John Sciamanna, vice president of public policy at the Child Welfare League of America, told the Post. "What you are seeing now is just a straining of the system."

More articles on opioids: 
UMass Memorial failed to report 80 substance-exposed births to child services, audit finds 
Senate adds $45B to BCRA for opioid treatment 
Opioid use disorder diagnoses for BCBS members sees nearly 500% increase since 2010


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