Increase in number of kids in foster care linked to opioids

USF researchers say the opioid crisis isn't just hitting drug users themselves. It's hitting their children.

A study by Troy Quast, PhD. says the more prescriptions for opioids in a given area, the more children are sent to foster care.  The three-month study found that for every additional seven prescriptions per 100 people, the number of kids sent to foster homes increased by nearly a third.

That's 2,000 kids a year.

The study found the childcare costs to be around $40-million annually to Florida taxpayers.   

Some counties saw one prescription a year for every three people. The highest rates were in counties with predominantly white populations.

"Their lives are turned upside down," said Quast. "Especially for young children, they are incredibly confused as to why they can't see their parents. Why they are being plucked into this brand new home."

Quast does say that state regulation of pain clinics has proven effective.
    
In 2013, the rate of prescriptions dropped 2.5 percent after the crackdown on pain clinics.

He says the problem is drugs available on the street have offset the initial decrease.

"Armed with this information, we would try to seek a grant to try to specifically help these families and their parents so they can be reunited with these kids once they get the treatment they need," said Ellen Snelling of the Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance.

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