The epidemic of opioid addiction in the US, which has reached never before seen heights in the past two years, has put an immense strain on the already resource-starved US health care system. Among the most devastating consequences of this crisis has been the thousands of children who lose their parents to addiction every day. These children have flooded the foster care system, and their cases have exhausted social services.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2012, 397,000 U.S. children were in foster care. By 2015, that number had risen 8 percent, to 428,000. There is no concrete data yet for 2016; however, experts predict that the past two years—the height of the opioid epidemic so far—has increased that number dramatically.
A recent study published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that in 14 states the number of foster kids rose by more than a quarter between 2011 and 2015.
States that are experiencing a massive influx of children into protective custody all face similar problems, with varying degrees of severity. None are equipped with the resources to adequately deal with the crisis. Three of the hardest hit states have been Maine, Florida, and Ohio.
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