For the 4th consecutive year there has been a rise in the number of children in foster care, due to a rise in substance abuse. At the end of the 2016 fiscal year, a total of 437,000 kids were reported in the foster care system. That total is up from the 427,400 that was reported at the end of 2015. A devastating 92,000 children have been removed from their homes and placed in foster care because of drug abuse by at least one parent.
The largest increases in placements are taking place in Indiana, Florida, Georgia, and West Virginia. Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary for children and families at the US Administration for Children and Families says, “The continued trend of parental substance abuse is very concerning, especially when it means children must enter foster care as a result.” Adoptions from foster care are also on the rise. The number rose from 54,000 in 2015 to 57,000 in 2016.
Across the country, states are finding themselves short on available foster homes. The situation had become so dire than many kids are being removed from their homes and placed into shelters. In April HHS launched a new strategy to combat the problem. The mission is to:
- Improve prevention, treatment, and recovery services
- Make overdose-reversing drugs more available
- Improve public health data reporting and collection
- Advance new research
- Further the practice of pain management
Jerry Milner, acting commissioner for the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families and Associate Commissioner at the Children’s Bureau says, “Families of children who come into contact with the child welfare system often are faced with complex problems and this is why we are allowing state and local communities to implement projects that address an array of needs. While our adoptions from foster care numbers are on the rise, reuniting or preventing a child from entering foster care is always our number one goal.”