Opioid epidemic increasing foster care numbers

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A new report by NC child reveals that thousands of children throughout the state were put into the foster care system because of opioids. More than 100 are in New Hanover County.

“We have had 20 kids in our home and majority of them have been placed in our home because parents are fighting substance use disorder,” foster parent Emily Klinefelter said.

As a foster parent, Klinefelter sees first-hand, the effects opioids and other substances have on children.

In North Carolina, the opioid epidemic drove up the number of children going into foster care from 2016 to 2017. In New Hanover County, more than 41% of children in foster care were taken from their homes because of a parent’s substance abuse problem.

Klinefelter says this isn’t shocking.

“I was initially sad, but being a foster parent, don’t think ill of me, but I wasn’t totally surprised with that percentage,” Klinefelter said.

The Department of Social Services deals with this issue day in and day out. Wanda Marino with DSS says when they saw an increase, they questioned the cause.

“When we started talking about it in the agency as well as looking at it with, for example with the hospital, New Hanover Regional, we had a lot more reports from the hospital of babies that were born and they were positive for opioids as well as other substances,” Marino said.

So far, as of the 2017 to 2018 year, the rate has gone down, and Marino hopes it continues to trend that way.

“I know that we’re in a county that we all work together and we have resources and we’re building those resources. We’re not putting our head in the sand, so to speak. So yes, I do believe we can get to that point,” Marino said.

Bladen and Pender Counties were just over 25%. Columbus County hit 42% and Brunswick County came in at 58%.

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Categories: Local, New Hanover