By Kent Berkley
A little more than a month ago, the Trump Administration formally declared the opioid epidemic to be a public health emergency. The declaration allows states to flexibly use federal funds to provide treatment for addicts. In assessing the harm caused by addiction, it is usually apparent how the life of the addict is damaged, but the secondary harm to children, families and institutions is less obvious. The increase in opioid addiction has contributed to greater numbers of families being torn apart and more children being placed in foster care. This creates a challenge for caseworkers charged with placing these children in a permanent home, usually through reunification or adoption, within a relatively short time frame. Doreen Goddard, Child and Family Services Manager with the Door County Department of Human Services, says the tight timeline for finding a permanent home is generally good practice because children need stability. She says that the timeline can also make decisions difficult, because treatment for drug addicted parents takes time to access and complete.
Goddard says the addiction and treatment issues are further complicated because relapse is often a natural part of the recovery process. Each episode of relapse requires a reassessment of the treatment and permanency plan for the children in foster care.