More children in foster care system due to drug abuse - Telemundo Amarillo

More children in foster care system due to drug abuse

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When opioid addiction hits mothers and fathers, the most vulnerable victims of the epidemic are often children. "It went from crack to meth and now we're seeing heroin," said Michelle Bearman-Wolbek, Executive Director of the Heart Gallery, a nonprofit organization that helps place children in foster care with permanent loving parents.

She’s seeing more children wind up in foster care systems across the country as a result of drug abuse. From October 1, 2016 through September of 2017, 185 children from Jefferson County and 84 in Shelby County were placed into foster care due to a parent’s drug abuse. 

"Whether it be a parent’s drug abuse and their inability to care for their children because the drug has taken over their body and they have neglected their children and these kids have come into care."

The state doesn’t track the drug of choice, Bearman-Wolbeck said it’s clear what’s happening, though. Heroin abuse is sending more children to foster care. 

"The numbers had been dropping, but I will say over the last two years the numbers have started to rise. I can tell just by the number of children we have worked with that at any given time we are working with about 300 children. This year we photographed 30 more children than we were planning on, which is a lot for us," continued Bearman-Wolbek. 

By the time children come to the Heart Gallery the parents’ parental rights have been terminated and the children have been in foster care for two years. 

"It's really hard to see, especially with the older children that we work with. Typically they know. They know that it's a drug that has taken over their parents and their parents weren't able to be parents they should have," said Bearman-Wolbek. 

"I would love for there to be no children that need our services but unfortunately that's not happening," she continued.

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