CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Every day in the Mountain State, whether it’s a holiday or not, kids are being forced out of their homes because of drugs.
In West Virginia, the number of children in foster care grew by 24 percent between 2012 and 2016, according to the state Department of Health and Human Resources in information provided to the Wall Street Journal, largely due to the opioid epidemic.
Tuck’s private nonprofit organization is one of several involved in improving child welfare in the Mountain State.
Part of that mission involves responding with assistance when kids much be removed from unsafe home environments, many due to neglect.
More kids in foster care means more demand on public and private state resources putting strains on judges, social workers and others; increased needs for foster families; additional challenges for emergency placements and more responsibilities for other relatives, like grandparents, he said.
West Virginia’s hospitals are also dealing with rising numbers of babies born addicted to opioids.
In many cases, foster parents “don’t know very much about a child they might be getting at 2 a.m. or 1 p.m. or on a Saturday or sibling groups,” Tuck said.
On Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline,” he told a story of a newborn addict who went into withdrawal after being placed in a foster home who then had to be hospitalized in another state.
“There’s ebb and flow,” Tuck explained. “There might have been some time a few years ago when meth issues were more prevalent to have removal, but now it’s heroin and synthetic heroin are the things that are bringing a lot of children into foster care.”
Synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil, which are many times more potent than heroin, are being used throughout West Virginia.
Tuck said they don’t have time to be discouraged.
“With our mission and purpose throughout the years, we’re always up for the challenge of helping West Virginians and the communities serve these kids.”
For more on the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, CLICK HERE.
Additional information on foster parenting is also available HERE.
In 2015, West Virginia reported the highest U.S. rate of death due to drug overdoses, 41.5 per 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.