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  • Writer's pictureNCAP

As Opioid Crisis Strains Foster Care, States Aren’t Tracking the Damage

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

This article appeared on Reveal: From the Center of Investigative Reporting on January 8, 2018.


New Hampshire social workers are all too familiar with how opioid abuse can push children into foster care. They see it all the time.

The chain of events is often the same: After being approached by social workers, addicted parents continue to overdose or start dodging them. State officials deem the home unsafe and seek a court’s permission to remove the children.

Then comes a knock at the family’s door.

It’s the last resort, reflecting what appears to be a stark trend across the state: Since 2010, the number of child removals in which substance abuse was a factor has nearly quadrupled. The number of children entering out-of-home care has nearly doubled. And between 2012 and 2016, the number of children born drug-exposed tripled.

Excerpt of interview with Adam Pertman

“What we do know anecdotally is that some numbers are directly linked,” said Adam Pertman, founder of the National Center on Adoption and Permanency. “Because the worker sees the parent, the worker sees the circumstances and can identify the direct link. But for everyone they can identify as a direct link, there’s an unknowable number that we can safely assume occur.”

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