Drug abuse is a prevalent and seemingly neverending issue in the world today. The drug-related crime and the shocking number of fatal overdoses are hard to comprehend. The impact of substance abuse spreads wide and affects many innocent people daily. Among those innocent victims are the children of drug users. But, we don’t often hear about this aspect of drug abuse and how it destroys lives. So, here are some statistics for those who are interested in knowing more about these blameless victims.
Number of Children of Drug Users Entering Foster Care is Escalating
Authorities remove children from their homes for a variety of reasons. Child abuse and neglect are the more common reasons. However, the number of children sent to foster care due to parental drug use is increasingly common.
A study by The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System indicates that of the 5 million children entering foster care between 2000 and 2017, 1,162,668 were the result of parental drug addiction.
In 2000, drug addiction was responsible for about 15% of kids in foster care, By 2017, the percentage increased to 36%. Sadly, many of these children of drug users were under the age of five.
What is Foster Care and Why is It Important?
Foster care is also referred to as out-of-home care. In most cases, it is for temporary use. Foster care may be provided by relatives or unrelated foster parents. It can also be provided by emergency shelters, group homes, residential care facilities, or supervised independent living.
The goal of foster care is to provide for the safety and health of children whose parents are unable to care for them. Foster parents can offer guidance and individual attention not provided in institutionalized programs.
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Foster Care Can Present Some Challenges and Disadvantages
Children in foster care can derive a sense of structure, stability, and belonging that they couldn’t enjoy in their own home due to parental drug use.
About half of the children in foster care return to their families. Some stay in foster care for a brief time. However, about 40% remain for one to three years or more.
Each year, about 50,000 children who can’t return to their homes are adopted. Also, about 20,000 of the kids who “age-out” are released from foster care before they are able to tackle adulthood without support. These young adults often end up homeless, jobless, or incarcerated.
One disadvantage is that the children move from one home to another for a variety of reasons. Of course, these frequent moves can affect their ability to concentrate in school, build relationships, and heal from their trauma. They may feel unloved or unwanted. Furthermore, children in group homes don’t experience what regular family life can be like. They may also have difficulty trusting or forming bonds with adults.
Treatment for Parental Drug Use is Vital to Protecting Children
For the children of drug users, treatment for the parent or parents is the first step in keeping the family intact. Programs are available that allow patients to continue living at home while undergoing treatment. This is a good option for individuals with small kids who have no childcare resources.
We also need to educate our youths about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Research shows that many kids who live with addicted parents become substance users themselves at a young age. Therefore, education, prevention, and treatment are the keys to preventing the cycle of substance use and more children of drug users entering an already overwhelmed system.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, don’t wait until it’s too late to seek help. Your children could be the ones to suffer the most. Contact us at New Beginnings today to learn about our unique and effective treatment options.