Increase Seen in Foster Care Entries Due to Parental Drug Use

MONDAY, July 15, 2019 — The number of foster care entries attributable to parental drug use increased considerably from 2000 to 2017, according to a research letter published online July 15 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Angélica Meinhofer, Ph.D., from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, and Yohanis Angleró-Díaz, M.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, analyzed data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System for children in foster care during fiscal years 2000 to 2017. The sample was stratified based on home removals attributable to parental drug use.

A total of 4,972,911 foster care entries were identified, of which 23.38 percent were home removals attributable to parental drug use. During the study period, the researchers found a dramatic and steady increase in the number and proportion of entries attributable to parental drug use, from 14.53 percent in 2000 to 36.26 percent in 2017. Children entering care because of parental drug use were more likely to be 5 years or younger, white, and from the southern region of the United States compared with children entering care for other reasons.

“Policymakers must ensure that the needs of this new wave of children entering foster care because of parental drug use are being met [through] high-quality foster care interventions,” the authors write. “These have been shown to mitigate some of the adverse effects of early childhood deprivation and disruptions in attachment.”

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Posted: July 2019

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