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Addictions Spark Rise In ‘Kinship Care’

With the opioid crisis in full swing, it is not uncommon for once intact families to be completely torn apart. Whether it’s a parent overdosing, a jail sentence or social services stepping in, children are yet another major victim of this epidemic. And now, The New York Times is calling out just how massive this trend has become. In fact, it has sparked a rise in “kinship care,” which involves other family members stepping in to carry the load.

The New York Times piece specifically focused on Ohio, which happens to be one of the states hardest hit by opioid addictions. Shockingly, more than 27,000 children were removed from their homes there last year because of painkiller dependencies. That particular stat accounts for a 140 percent jump over the past eight years.

Per The Times, a strong majority of the Ohio children removed found themselves in kinship care. This is defined as falling under the guardianship of grandparents, aunts, uncles, extended relatives and even family friends.

Children impacted by this range from newborns to high schoolers. Several Ohio teens who have been placed in kinship care spoke with The Times, outlining their experiences.

“It’s so crazy to walk into the kitchen and there’s food every day,” 15-year-old Jocelyn Cooper told the site. “Normally I was ordering pizza or walking to get food at Wendy’s.”

Cooper has been raised by her aunt and uncle since age 9, when her father succumbed to an overdose. She admitted that there was turmoil in the beginning, as the relatives won custody over her opioid-addicted mother. But now she welcomes the stability and is grateful for their care.

Nationally, about 32 percent of all American children are being raised by a relative. That, of course, can spread beyond addiction issues, but for a strong majority the reasons tie back to the opioid epidemic.

While we applaud all of these extended family members who are now stepping up to the plate, it is very unfortunate to see the “kinship care” stat rise so dramatically. Truth be told, getting taken away from one’s parents can have deep psychological repercussions on a child; no matter how loving the new home may be.

The real way to help put a dent in that statistic is by getting these families assistance before it becomes too late. If you know a mom or dad struggling with a serious addiction, please reach out and help facilitate their recovery process before any major damage takes place.