Officials say that Ohio’s problem with heroin is reaching epidemic proportions. Ohio has the nation’s highest rate of deadly heroin overdoses, killing at least 23 people in the state each week by some estimates.
And as so often occurs when it comes to drug abuse, children are among those who suffer the most.
About half of all the kids in Ohio’s foster care system are there because one or both of their parents are drug addicts – and some counties report a rate of over 80 percent.
And while government officials prefer to place these children in “kinship care” – with grandparents or other relatives – to reduce trauma, officials say it’s not always possible.
Because entire families are struggling with opioid addiction.
The situation has driven Mike DeWine, the state’s Attorney General, to go public with an urgent plea for Ohio residents to consider becoming foster parents to help kids from drug-ravaged families. He laid out the situation in stark terms:
“There is a growing chasm between the number of available foster families and the increasing number of children who enter the child welfare system because one or both of their parents are drug addicts.
“Today I want to issue a call to Ohioans who may be interested in being a foster parent. I ask them to make that leap and open their home to a kid or kids who could use a stable, loving home.”
The state is even rolling out a dedicated email address to speed up the required background checks: FosterCheck@OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov. It’s also earmarking $1 million in grants to help recruit new foster families.
Sadly, Focus’ own Wait No More program regularly encounters orphaned children caught up in today’s drug crisis. But given the governor’s specific plea, I wanted to add my voice to the request. If you live in Ohio, I encourage you to consider Attorney General DeWine’s words. If you know couples or families who live in Ohio, I hope you’ll share this blog post with them. These kids need stable families after the trauma and possible neglect they’ve endured – and who can better provide that security, love and safety than Jesus-loving Christians? Please open your heart to the possibility of taking in a child in need.
Note: Ohio isn’t the only state in need of more foster parents. Earlier this year, Texas asked churches to help foster kids.