Advocating for safe children, stable families, and supportive communities
37 West Broad Street, Suite 1100
Columbus, OH 43215 — 614-224-5802

Opiate Epidemic

The opiate epidemic has reached every corner of Ohio. State leaders have responded by expanding Medicaid, which makes treatment options available to more people struggling with addiction, as well as by limiting prescriptions and piloting evidence-based practices such as the Maternal Opiate Medical Support (MOMS) program.

Opiate Epidemic

Children of parents addicted to opiates are flooding into the state’s child protection system. They are the invisible victims of the epidemic. A recent survey by PCSAO found that half of children taken into custody in 2015 had parental drug use identified at the time of removal, and 28 percent of children removed that year had parents who used opioids, including prescription opiates, heroin and fentanyl. That means nearly a third of children in custody are there because of the epidemic, and that number doesn’t count many children who continue to be served in their homes or who are placed with kin.

The epidemic is largely responsible for an 11 percent increase in children in custody in just the past six years. But during that same period, state funding for child protection declined by 21 percent. The impact on the system has been devastating:


Media Coverage

Ohio Newspaper Editorial Board Support

Mar. 12 – Editorial: Children in harm’s way with the scourge of drugsThe Youngstown Vindicator
…we urge Gov. Kasich and the Republican majority in the Ohio General Assembly to loosen the state’s purse strings and provide the relatively small increase in funding to assist those who are providing a safe haven for the “invisible victims” of this deadly scourge.

Mar. 3 – Editorial: Heroin epidemic straining children servicesThe Canton Repository
That’s why the PCSAO and other advocates for children services are right to call on state lawmakers to increase children services funding $30 million annually from the current level of about $45 million a year, and to create a subsidy for relatives who become caregivers. It’s a small amount compared to the overall two-year, $67 billion state budget Gov. John Kasich has proposed. Ohio has made significant strides in addressing the opioid epidemic. State lawmakers must do all they can to make sure its invisible victims aren’t so invisible anymore.

Feb. 17 – Editorial: Boost funding to an Ohio foster care system increasingly burdened by the opioid crisis: editorialThe Cleveland Plain Dealer
The state legislature must give counties the money and the resources to provide safe foster homes and to help county workers who are responsible for them. Make no mistake: The well-being of Ohio’s next generation will depend on how well adult Ohioans take care of heroin’s youngest victims.

Feb. 17 – Editorial: Will Ohio protect its children?The Akron Beacon Journal
Yet a truly urgent and comprehensive approach that includes a focus on children has been lacking. After years of decreased funding from the state, agencies such as Summit County Children Services have stretched as far as they can go to handle the fallout from the opiate crisis. Surely, the state can find $30 million to meet their request.

Feb. 13, 2017 – Editorial: more needed to fight overdosesThe Columbus Dispatch
Given these circumstances, Ohio legislators are right to question the governor’s budget. Ohio is in the grip of a plague that shows no signs of abating. Stronger efforts are needed to combat it.

Dec. 17, 2016 – Editorial: Opiate epidemic squeezes Children ServicesThe Akron Beacon Journal
If the state is serious about addressing effectively the opiate crisis, its leaders must include plans to step up with additional resources to help hard-pressed agencies such as the Children Services Board.

Columns and Opinion

Feb. 25 – Robin Reese commentary: Funds needed for epidemic’s young victims – Toledo Blade
Too many Lucas County children have had to enter the care of relatives or foster parents because their birth families have been blinded by their substance dependency. The number of children in LCCS custody jumped 21 percent between 2011 and 2016. The number of children placed in the custody of a relative skyrocketed 40 percent in that same time, even as the proportion of available kinship caregivers had declined.

Jan. 13, 2017 – David W. Haverfield commentary: Addiction crisis is swamping children-services agencies – Columbus Dispatch
It’s the phone call no children-services worker wants to take.

Oct. 25, 2016 – Theodore Decker commentary: Ohio isn’t taking very good care of its kids – Columbus Dispatch
Since 2009, the number of children in agency custody statewide has increased by 19 percent, to nearly 14,000. Over roughly the same period, counties saw state funding drop by 17 percent, for a loss of about $93 million.

July 16 – Robin Reese commentary: Children are also victims of addiction – Toledo Blade
Lucas County, like many communities across the country, has been gripped by an epidemic of heroin, opiate, and fentanyl addiction. These powerful drugs have been destroying families and claiming lives at a record pace.

National News Coverage of Ohio

Feb. 7 – Opioid overdose crisis plaques ClevelandCBS News
At his meeting with the sheriffs today, President Trump promised to help them “stop the opioid epidemic.” Every day, 91 Americans die from an overdose of opioids, which include prescription painkillers and heroin. In Cleveland, it’s a crisis.

Feb. 8 – Why opioid overdose deaths seem to happen in spurtsCNN
Drug deaths in America sometimes seem to come in groups; just look at Ohio. At least 14 people died of opioid overdoses in Cuyahoga County over the weekend, CNN affiliate WEWS reported.

Jan. 25 – Take back our cities from opioidsUSNews
The opioid epidemic in our cities increased at an alarming rate over the past year. Every day, 3,900 people initiate nonmedical use of prescription opioids for the first time, and these drugs have claimed the lives of our young and old; black and white; men and women; rich and poor. Iraq war veterans, highly educated professionals, even former drug counselors have also joined the fallen faces.

Jan. 16 – Young Victims of the Opioid Epidemic: Editorial – The New York Times
Opioid overdoses have claimed more than 300,000 lives in the last 15 years, including some 33,000 in 2015 alone. But those numbers do not tell the full horror of this epidemic, which has devastated the lives of countless children whose parents have succumbed to addiction to prescription painkillers and other opiates.

Jan. 15 – The children of the opioid crisis – The Wall Street Journal
The police officer who entered Mikaya Feucht’s Ohio apartment found it littered with trash, dirty dishes and plastic milk jugs full of the opioid addict’s vomit.

Jan. 12, 2017 – Unfinished business: Bipartisan help for child victims of the opioid crisis – The Hill
In the wake of the partisan 2016 election, there is an urgent need for the parties to start solving problems together again. Helping children whose futures are threatened by the opioid crisis is exactly such an opportunity.

Dec. 30, 2016 – An addiction crisis along ‘the backbone of America’ – Washington Post
The young woman sat on a city bench in Athens, Ohio, smoking a Marlboro. She told me her name is Keri, she’s 29, and she has a 10-year-old daughter and a history of drug addiction and mood disorders. She’d just been to a court hearing to get custody of her child. Bad as things are for her, they used to be worse, she said.

Dec. 15 – The Children of the Opioid Crisis – Wall Street Journal
Left behind by addict parents, tens of thousands of youngsters flood the nation’s foster-care system; grandparents become moms and dads again.

Nov. 28 – Opioids send Ohio foster care into costly overdrive – County News (National Association of Counties)
It happened twice in Ohio in September. You may have seen the photo, circulating virally online: a man and a woman, passed out in the front seat of an SUV, with the woman’s 4-year-old grandson in the back.

Nov. 3 – How drug addiction led to more grandparents raising grandchildrenPBS NewsHour
The number of grandparents who are raising their grandchildren is going up and increasingly it’s because their own kids are addicted to heroin or prescription drugs, or have died from an overdose. For some, it’s a challenge with little help available.

Oct. 7 – These states are struggling with a drug addiction-fueled crisis in foster carePBS NewsHour
The nation’s drug-addiction epidemic is driving a dramatic increase in the number of children entering foster care, forcing many states to take urgent steps to care for neglected children.

State News Coverage

March 15 – Ohio state children services funding ranks last in the
Ohio is dead last of all 50 states for state funding to public children services. Not only is Ohio in last place, but even if the funding was doubled, Ohio would still be last on the list.

March 14 – Heroin’s young victims: More children in foster care due to heroin epidemic (Includes video) – WKRC
More children are being removed from their homes in Ohio than ever before. There’s new evidence that Ohio’s heroin epidemic has a lot to do with it. Some people on the front line of child welfare want to know why the state isn’t putting more resources into helping those children.

March 11 – State Tackles Opioid Epidemic – Community Common
Ohio is tackling the problem in a variety of ways that include tracking prescription pill purchases through a statewide database, advising doctors on proper dosage limits, initiating a youth drug prevention program, providing access to medication-assisted treatment and behavioral health treatment to participants in drug courts and other specialized dockets, and seeking solutions on a regional level.

Feb. 28 – Increase state child welfare spending, advocates urge –
Ohio’s county children services agencies need more state funding as they struggle to provide care for children of opioid-addicted parents, child welfare advocates say.

Feb. 28 – State custody emergencies triple in county; drug use linked – Star Beacon
Last year, Juvenile Court Judge Albert Camplese held three times as many emergency hearings in that court than in 2015 — many involving temporary child custody or placement motions on behalf of the county Children Services Board.

Feb. 22 – More foster parents, funding needed to battle heroin epidemicWCPO
For Fawn and Steve Kippenberg, it took losing their four children to the foster care system to open the couple’s eyes to the addiction they were battling.

Feb. 21 – Heroin epidemic having an impact on foster care system in Ohio –
The fallout from the heroin epidemic in Ohio is hurting more and more children. Attorney General Mike Dewine said it’s so bad, the foster care system is being overwhelmed.

Feb. 20 – State custody emergencies triple in county; drug use linked – The Star Beacon
Last year, Juvenile Court Judge Albert Camplese held three times as many emergency hearings in that court than in 2015 — many involving temporary child custody or placement motions on behalf of the county Children Services Board.

Feb. 15 – Heroin abuse causes heavy strain on foster care system (Includes video) – WLWT
Experts from child care agencies are seeing a heavier strain placed on Cincinnati-area foster care systems lately. There is mounting evidence that heroin abuse is causing much of that strain.

Feb. 15 – Greater Cincinnati heroin epidemic leaves scores of ‘silent victims’ in its wakeWCPO
In just a few weeks, Crystal Cook will achieve her most important goal: She will reclaim her children. Her six kids have been living with her mother for almost three years as Cook has struggled to beat her addiction to heroin.

Feb. 15 – The child service workers picking up the pieces of Ohio’s opioid crisisWOSU Radio
Jennifer Mills drives down a long open road, flanked by fields of yellow grass, clouds overhanging. As a child services caseworker, Mills says on most days she will drive from one end of Ross County to the other, filing paperwork at the local courthouse and to check in on her clients.

Feb. 13 – Groups speak out for silent victims of Ohio’s opioid Crisis – Public News Service
Ohio has still not escaped the clutches of the opioid epidemic and some groups say its youngest victims often are forgotten. According to the Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO), nearly half of children taken into the care of social service agencies in 2015 had parents struggling with addiction, and about 1 in 4 had parents abusing opioids or heroin.

Feb. 10 – Children services agencies say no additional funding in budget for kids hurt by opioid crisisWOSU Radio
In the last seven years, the number of children taken into custody by children services agencies in Ohio soared by nearly 20%, and half of those cases involve parental drug use. And the agencies charged with caring for those kids say Gov. John Kasich’s proposed budget doesn’t do enough to help them.

Feb. 9 – Ohio’s children services agencies point to opioid epidemic, Say Kasich’s Budget Falls ShortWKSU
In the last seven years, the number of children taken into custody by children services agencies in Ohio soared by nearly 20 percent, and half of those cases involve parental drug use. And the agencies charged with caring for those kids say Gov. John Kasich’s proposed budget doesn’t do enough to help them.

Feb. 8 – As Ohio’s opioid epidemic increases, proposed state budget keeps child protective services last in funding – News-Herald
In Gov. John Kasich’s proposed 2018-19 budget the funding would remain flat, which would leave the seventh most populous state 50th in the nation in state-level funding for child protective services.

Feb. 8 – Dem, GOP lawmakers want budget to do more to handle drug epidemic – The Columbus Dispatch
Lawmakers in both parties pressed Gov. John Kasich’s Medicaid and health directors today about why the budget does not do more to deal with the state’s drug epidemic.

Feb. 1 – It’s due to opiate epidemic – The Times-Gazette
There are currently 103 children in the Highland County foster care system, and 27 children in permanent custody of Highland County Children’s Services awaiting adoption – record-high numbers, according to Job and Family Services Director Katie Adams, who attributes the problem almost entirely to Highland County’s drug problem.

Jan. 23 – How Children Become Involved in the Ohio Opiate CrisisWKSU News
Ohio leads the nation in opiate overdose deaths, with an average of eight people dying each day last year. And thousands more are addicted, and in many cases, those addicts have families.

Jan. 19 – Children Services Agencies Say Kids, Social Workers Are Suffering In Opioid Epidemic – The Statehouse News Bureau
Ohio leads the nation in opiate overdose deaths, with an average of eight people dying each day last year. And thousands more are addicted, and in many cases, those addicts have families. On this week’s “The State of Ohio,” two children services directors share stories from the front lines of this crisis.

Jan. 18 – Opioid Crisis and Children ServicesWOSU Radio
As the opioid crisis has spread across Ohio, children are often overlooked when parents become addicted.

Jan. 15 – Heroin babies are massing on America’s horizon – Phillip Morris, The Plain Dealer
The New York Times published a story last March about a historic church in Massachusetts that reluctantly closed its bathrooms to the public after several heroin addicts overdosed in the building’s restrooms.

Jan. 13 – Stark numbers show heroin’s local grip – Dayton Daily News
An average of seven Montgomery County residents a day were treated for drug overdoses by emergency departments in 2016, and one person alone made eight trips to the ER. Eleven people were treated twice in the same day for overdoses.

Jan. 10, 2017 – How the opiate epidemic is taking a toll on Summit County Children Services –
Thanks in part to the heroin epidemic, Summit County Children Services last year saw a nearly 50-percent jump in new custody cases.

Dec. 18, 2016 – Children Services sees rise in drug-related foster cases – Athens Messenger
As Athens County and the rest of Ohio work to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic plaguing the state, children are not immune to its lasting effects.

Dec. 13 – Heroin not only reason behind big increase in child abuse cases – Cincinnati Enquirer
Magistrate Brenda Anthony is on after-hours phone duty this month in Hamilton County Juvenile Court. And she’s holding her breath.

Dec. 12 – Athens Children Services Sees Rise in Drug-Related Foster CasesWOUB
As Athens County and the rest of the state of Ohio work to combat the … Hill says Athens County Children Services is getting younger children in care …

Nov. 16 – Drug addicted parents: Caring for their suffering
While many children who become the victims of their drug addicted parents will end up in foster care, many are placed with other family members.

Nov. 10 – Growing opioid epidemic results in more grandparents raising their children’s childrenNKYTribune
An increasing number of grandparents are raising their grandchildren, largely because many of the children’s parents are addicted to heroin or prescription drugs, both increasing problems in rural areas.

Nov. 9 – A drug baby – Cleveland Jewish News
My patient is a “drug baby.” His mother is addicted to opiates, and today’s visit is part of the MOMS Project, an innovative program that cares for drug-addicted moms and their babies throughout pregnancy and beyond.

Nov. 7 – Mental health and substance use services: meeting kids where they are – Public News Service
Research indicates mental-health conditions can make kids more prone to use alcohol or drugs. As schools around Ohio work to educate students about the dangers of substance use, one district is also providing mental health services to kids.

Nov. 4 – Children, the innocent victims of the opioid epidemic in NW OhioWTVG
The number of children in foster care as a direct result of the opioid and heroin epidemic continues to grow. This is a problem that is overloading children’s services throughout all of Northwest Ohio.

Nov. 4 – Opiate crisis leads to spike in Trumbull County adoptionsWKBN
Tim Schaffner, executive director of Trumbull County Children Services, said the heroin and prescription drug epidemic are behind many kids landing in the foster care system. “We’re in such a crisis with the opiates.”

Nov. 3 – Heroin epidemic increasing need for foster, adoptive parents – West Side Leader
With November being celebrated as National Adoption Month, Summit County Children Services (SCCS) is focusing on the increasing need for foster parents and those willing to adopt.

Nov. 2 – Cincinnati conference highlights drug abuse epidemic’s effects on kids –
The country’s addictions epidemic has created a generation of children affected by their parents’ problems, a doctor who works with infants born addicted to heroin told a gathering of experts struggling with the issue Tuesday.

Oct. 30 – Butler Co. organization seeing spike in heroin-related child neglect cases (Includes video) – Fox 19
Advocates in Butler County said they’re dealing with a huge spike in child abuse and neglect cases related to drugs. Now, they’re desperately working to help the children. “I’ve had children 3, 4, 5 and 6 that can tell me how to use drugs,” CASA Volunteer Coordinator Sarah Owens said.

Oct. 27 – Heroin hitting kids: how the epidemic is changing child welfare (Includes video) – WRGT
The state calls them silent victims. More and more kids and being taken from drug-addicted families, and there’s a record number of kids in Ohio state custody right now. Foster families are virtually impossible to find.

Oct. 27 – Local woman building recovery center for drug-addicted newborns (Includes video) – WRGT
Resources for this unbelievable problem are almost non-existent. Brigid’s Path, an opiate recovery and rehab center, was created out of necessity.

Oct. 25 – Funding for Child Protective Services is lowest in the nation – News 5 Cleveland
Ohio has some of the lowest funding for child protective services in the United States. Funding dropped off during the recession and never bounced back. The repercussions of this state’s heroin epidemic are being seen in courtrooms, “Those of us that have this docket are finding that we’re being overwhelmed and it is getting harder and harder to get the cases in in a timely fashion,” said Nancy McMillen, a Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Magistrate.

Oct. 24 – AG: Heroin epidemic unlike any other – Fairborn Daily Herald
“This opiate epidemic is unlike any drug epidemic I’ve ever seen,” he said Friday before speaking at a faith leaders conference at Cedarville University. “It goes across every demographic. From teenagers to 60- and 70-year-olds. Income doesn’t matter. Race doesn’t matter. Sex doesn’t matter. We’re losing eight to 10 people a day in Ohio.” The cost of foster care in Ohio is even on the rise because of the increase in orphaned children.

Oct. 23 – Rural counties struggle to help kids amid drug crisis – Columbus Dispatch
Ohio’s county-run system of child-protective services has long been a tale of haves and have-nots, with property-rich counties such as Franklin able to generate millions of dollars in tax revenue to support a broad array of services. Small, rural counties such as Gallia, where property values are relatively low, poverty rates high and levies a tough sell, struggle under the local-funding model.

Oct. 17 – Report: Scioto County leads Ohio in drug-addicted births – Columbus Dispatch
A recent report from the Children’s Defense Fund has found that Scioto County in southern Ohio has the highest birth rate of drug-addicted babies in the state.

Oct. 13 – Number of children in foster care in Athens County expected to continue to rise this year – The Post
In 2015, Athens County Children Services had 146 children in their custody – a 7 percent increase from 2014. 2015 Annual Report.

Oct. 13 – Ohio leads first-of-Its-kind regional task force against raging foe: The opioid epidemic – Akron Legal News
The crisis arrived swiftly and with overpowering potency, leaving the patient stunned, uncertain how to escape the drug-induced fog. The patient is America and the problem is the opioid epidemic that claims hundreds of new victims everyday.

Oct. 12 – Community forum brings hundreds to discuss heroin in central Ohio – Columbus Dispatch
Her body craved the addictive, deadly drug so much that it controlled her every move… No matter how many times Vanessa Perkins promised herself that she would stop shooting heroin, she continued to do anything — including sell her body for money — to get it.

Sept. 20 – Heroin epidemic leaves growing number of kids without parents – 33 WYTV
Trumbull County Children Services says the number of kids in need of someone to take care of them is rapidly growing as the heroin epidemic worsens.

Sept. 20 – Heroin epidemic forcing more kids into foster care, state funding falling short –
Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO) are calling children of addicts the “invisible victims” of the epidemic. According to PCSAO, there …

Sept. 20 – More Ohio kids in foster care amid opioid epidemic – Associated Press
Child welfare advocates in Ohio say children have become the “invisible victims” of the opioid crisis, as more kids are put into foster care and funding for children services agencies falls short.

Sept. 19 – Parents’ heroin addictions put too many kids in foster care – Columbus Dispatch
The family homestead is remote, its long, dirt-and-gravel driveway cutting deep into the Appalachian countryside. Suzanne Valle hangs a sign on the mailbox because first-time visitors often miss the turn.

Sept. 13 – Ohio police defend their decision to show parents passed out in car from heroin overdose – Inquisitr
The Ohio city that shared graphic photos of a couple passed out in their car from a heroin overdose while the four-year-old child sits in the back seat are defending their position to show the disturbing photos following a small but vocal backlash.

Aug. 31 – Drug cases often leave kids in foster care – Mansfield News Journal
Jason Kline doesn’t feel too far removed from the parents and the children he works with as a foster care specialist at Richland County Children Services.

June 28 – Counties struggle to find funds for child welfare services during heroin epidemic – 10TV
According to the Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO), 13,579 children are currently in the custody of the state. It’s a nine percent …

June 2 – Legislation would provide babies addicted to opioids with more resourcesWKBN
Legislation that would better fund care for babies born addicted to drugs could be making its way to Ohio. Last week, Senator Sherrod Brown, alongside representatives from West Virginia and Maine, announced the Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act.

June 2016 – Eight-part Series on Opioid Crisis –
The series features insights from key officials on the front lines trying to mitigate the scourge for their ideas on how best to stop, contain or moderate it.