Opiate crisis increasing trauma for kids

Staff report


Because of the opiate crisis, children statewide are staying in foster care 19 percent longer than they did in 2010.

Also, 62 percent more relatives were caring for children in 2016 than in 2010 across Ohio, according to the Public Children Services Association of Ohio.

In Trumbull County, Children Services saw a 33 percent increase in the number of children the agency placed with relatives from 2014 to 2016.

Tim Schaffner, executive director of Trumbull Children Services, said the county’s high drug-overdose rate is having a negative impact on children.

Children Services’ role is to address physical, sexual and emotional abuse involving children, but the opiate epidemic has increased the number of kids being traumatized and the amount of trauma they have suffered, Schaffner said.

The increase in traumas and cases has translated into more expensive and longer treatments.

“What it translates into is a generation of kids who are going to have a much more complicated emotional and physical health and be much more likely to live high-risk lifestyles themselves,” he said.

Children in Trumbull Children Services custody increased 40 percent from August 2013 to July 2015, Schaffner said.

That increase dropped back down in 2016 because Children Services employees and police officers worked more effectively the day of the initial call to find relatives to take care of children the same day, without the child having to come into agency custody, Schaffner said.

“Addiction is a disease that takes children away from their parents,” but family members farther out on the family tree have made the difference, Schaffner said.

“Families are stepping up to care for the children,” Schaffner said. Nonparent relatives “are taking love to a new level by opening their hearts and their homes to those most in need of what a family can give: healing, support and understanding.”

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