Tags: Emerging Threats | Health Topics | dcs | tennessee | abuse | foster

Children Are Collateral Damage in Opioid Epidemic

opioids and their impact upon children

By with Michael R. Shannon Saturday, 22 February 2020 11:27 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Tennessee has some startling and disturbing numbers regarding how the opioid and other drugs epidemic is devastating families and vulnerable children.

The Johnson City Press found, "Recent statewide figures show 2,451 children were placed in foster care in 2019 as a direct result of a family member’s substance abuse. That was an increase of 103 children from the previous year."

Unfortunately, Tennessee is not alone. Stateline reports "babies and toddlers are entering the foster care system at a higher rate, which some experts blame on the methamphetamine and opioid epidemics."

And it’s not surprising the state with the highest drug overdose statistics in the nation, West Virginia, also has the most children entering foster care.

State Sen. Rusty Crowe, 3rd Dist., chairman of Tennessee’s Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee, told the Johnson City Press, "It’s not just opioids, it’s literally a drug culture problem, it effects the entire family."

Chronic drug abuse on the part of the parents means the children spend longer periods in foster care. "It’s taking longer for them to get clean — to reprogram their brains," Crowe said. "That often means their children are staying longer in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services."

Fortunately, the state isn’t just temporarily warehousing the children with foster parents.

The Department of Children’s Services (DCS) has instituted what are called specialized drug intervention teams that "key to helping DCS address substance abuse-related foster cases."

Johnson County, home to Sen. Crowe, has found success with what is called Safe Baby Court. Carla Aaron, DCS’s executive director of the office of child safety, said, “this voluntary program allows a judge to work with the DCS to help substance abusers, who have children under the age of 3, find the resources they need for recovery.”

Johnson County was one of the first locales in the state to implement the new program and it’s one of the first counties to see results. "Johnson County saw its number of foster cases resulting from substance abuse drop from 16 in 2018 to seven in 2019."

Camille Legins, DCS’s executive director of network development and child programs, said that often the parents in drug abuse cases need some parenting from the state. The DCS does this by "stepping in and exercising some rules and perimeters." DCS also reaches out to family members of the addicted parent and encourages them to “become better caregivers to their family member’s children."

Nancy Reagan had it right decades ago when the cool people ridiculed her for urging Americans to "just say no" to drugs. We pretty sure Tennessee’s children would have preferred their parents had ignored the culture and said "no." 

Michael Reagan, the eldest son of President Reagan, is a Newsmax TV analyst. A syndicated columnist and author, he chairs The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Michael is an in-demand speaker with Premiere speaker’s bureau. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.

Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher for the League of American Voters, and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.

© Mike Reagan

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Unfortunately, Tennessee is not alone. Stateline reports "babies and toddlers are entering the foster care system at a higher rate, which some experts blame on the methamphetamine and opioid epidemics."
dcs, tennessee, abuse, foster
Saturday, 22 February 2020 11:27 AM
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