02 Oct Victims of the Opioid Epidemic: Children
By McKayla Skinner
Recently I came across a CNN article entitled “The Opioid Crisis Took this 8-year-old’s Father Away” by Christina Manduley and Kimberly Berryman. The reporters highlighted the experience of an 8-year-old girl, Ava, who was awaiting the release of her father from an Ohio correctional facility. He was placed there due to his abuse of opioids and a theft charge. Prepared with gifts and a loving hand-written letter, Ava waited alongside her grandmother only to receive a call that her father’s release had been delayed. She would not be able to see her father that day. Disappointed, her Grandmother consoled her and allowed her to grieve, then explained the consequences of drug abuse on the family. This experience illustrates a challenge that is becoming all too common for children in society. However, with the help of her loving grandmother and counselors Ava is slowly navigating this trial day by day, even after her dad’s eventual transition back home. Like Ava, other children are currently experiencing the effects of a parent’s opioid addiction, though not all have loving extended family available to them, and many are paired with a foster family instead.
The Increasing Need for Foster Parents
In Ohio, USA, alone “there has been an 11% increase in children entering the foster care system since 2010.” In the most recent statistical report the average number of children served by foster care is just over 427,000, but this number has seen peaks of over 670,000. These surges are due in part to the increasing abuse of opioids in American families. With such an influx of children, there is an even greater need for foster parents. Currently states like Indiana, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, and California, have resorted to setting children up overnight at the child welfare offices, a hotel, or even a group home. However these children need more than a home, they need a place where they can truly recharge after the trauma that they have experienced (see video).
Furthermore, these children are more than a number and one cannot better understand their situation unless they reach out and help. One organization through which individuals can help is One Simple Wish which puts the need to a name. Through this organization caring citizens can donate money to specific children based on their need. In this way the donor can be confident that their contribution goes to an individual child.
Reach Out and Lift Where You Are
There is a state by state list of foster care closets and local foster organizations. This resource can help community members partner with local organizations and allow them to give their time, talents, and resources to help. By so doing, concerned individuals can stay up to date on local events in their area through social media and help contribute in local events by attending or hosting with their family, church, or business. These, and many other resources, are available for those who want to help children in crisis.
We too can live the motto that one foster program has espoused: “We cannot change what we refuse to confront.” There is such a great need, and there are powerful ways to lift these children who have the potential to become insightful leaders and caring parents one day. We cannot help but be lifted when, by ourselves and with our families, we embark in a good cause to help others.