A recent survey by the association found that at least half of all children taken into custody last year had parents using drugs, a majority of which were opiates.
As federal and state legislative action has largely focused on opioid-prescribing practices and treatment for addicts, little attention has turned toward the child-welfare system.Lorra Fuller, head of the Children Services agency in Scioto County, confirms, "We have to keep children safe, and we rob Peter to pay Paul to do it." The State of Ohio, which already ranks last in the nation for child-protection funding, has not sent county agencies new money to aid in the fight.The agency has a million budget that keeps taking hits, from the loss of more than 0,000 in state and federal funding by 2010 to a ,000 penalty this year for not meeting the federal standard on parent-child visitation rates.Fuller said she can afford to pay local foster parents only .50 a day."More staff could help with these high-needs cases," she said. We need to be there at least weekly, maybe three times in a week."Scioto County has some of the lowest property values in the state; thus, tax-levy revenue also is low.The agency had 80 children in custody four years ago and 173 by early this summer. Rita Price of the Dispatch shares Fuller's words ...
“There would be fewer, Fuller acknowledges, if she hadn't drawn a line in the sand four years ago.
'I decided that if mom was positive on delivery and baby was positive and there was not a prescription, we were going to take custody,' Fuller said.
“Before 2012, caseworkers first might have worked with the mothers to offer treatment, services and support as part of an 'alternative response' approach that aims to reduce foster-care placements.
“But in the face of a full-blown opiate epidemic, 'alternative response didn't work for us,' Fuller said.
'We just weren't being effective as a child-welfare agency by leaving those children out there.
What we saw was that these babies that weren't removed were coming into the system as 1- and 2-year-olds for neglect.' “Although strategies and practices vary among Ohio's 88 county Children Services agencies, there is broad agreement that the system is facing a terrible foe — one that wrecks families, drives up costs, demoralizes workers and can drag cases out for years.