GREENSBORO, N.C. — New information released by the advocacy group, N.C.Child shows just how damaging the opioid epidemic is on the state.
The data revealed that children who have parents with a history of substance abuse are forced into foster care at an alarming rate.
The walls of the Seven Homes Foster Care Agency in Greensboro are adorned with happy faces of children up for adoption and waiting for a foster parent. But deep down and behind the glossy photos lie dark truths about how many of them ended up in that situation.
While some are in foster care because of neglect, abuse, many are there because their parent(s) are addicted to or have died from overdosing on an opioid.
More than 16,000 children in the state lived in foster care in 2017, according to NC Child. The agency used data from the NC Department of Health and Human Services.
Over the last decade, nearly 40 % of children went into foster because of parental substance abuse. That's number is up from 26 percent.
In Guilford County the number of opioid-related foster care cases last year was at 43 percent, Forsyth County was at 52% while Alamance 41%. Updated details sent in from Alamance County showed that as of February 2018, of the 97 children taken into custody last year, 61 had at least one parent with an opioid addiction and 38 newborns were already substance dependent.
"A big part of the problem is that parents just don't have the treatment options that they need to create a safe stable environment for their children," said Rob Thompson, the Executive Director of N.C. Child
The data also showed children from such households are more than twice as likely to also develop a dependence on drugs or alcohol.
Foster care providers say the situation is overwhelming and they are running out of foster parents.
"This opioid crisis is generational that so any of these parents losing there kids to foster care, they were given their first hits by their parents when they were 12 and 13 and it just keeps going," said Heather Still, who within the last 2 years had adopted 3 children to bring her family to 7.
Researchers hope this shows the need for more health insurance coverage for drug prevention and rehab programs.
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, you can contact the following agencies below to sign up.
Guilford County - Contact Chris Hines at 336-641-KIDS (5437) or visit the web page.
Alamance County - C
ontact Sherry Ford at 336-229-2965 or Alicia Bobbitt at 336-229-2960.
Forsyth County - Contact 336-703-2445 or visit the webpage