DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – An estimated half of all children in foster care are there because of parental substance abuse, according to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Office.
With the opiate epidemic gripping Montgomery County, DeWine’s office chose eight counties for a new pilot program to help children going through the system due to a drug-addicted parent or guardian.
The program is part of a $1 million grant providing for the cost of a full-time staff member who will be responsible for family searches and engagement. The staff member will also assist with foster family recruitment if it gets to that point.
Montgomery County Children Services Director Jewell Good says more than 40-percent of the children in the county’s system are there because of their parent or guardian’s drug addiction.
“That’s what the numbers will tell you, but my staff would say those numbers are absolutely higher than that,” said Good.
The program, 30 Days to Family works to keep children out of the foster care system and with a family member through software.
“The goal is within that first 30 days to identify family using tools like a Genogram, which is basically a tool social workers use to outline who is all of the family options that might be available and maybe it’s options that weren’t given to us at the time of removal by the birth parent,” said Good.
With drug overdose deaths up by 60-percent in the county for 2017 compared to 2016, Good hopes stop an orphan epidemic.
“We have children who are being raised in the system longer than what they used to be if not permanently because a parent has overdosed and died,” she said.
Good is optimistic about what 2018 and the new position will bring. She also hopes parents in the community will pay attention to what’s at stake.
“For us, in Montgomery County today it seems that they’re choosing their addiction over their children.”
Good says they hope to have the position filled in the next 4-6 months.
Pilot counties include: