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Monday, March 14, 2016

Ohio Lets Heroin Parents Keep Their Children If They Can "Function"

Heroin is not just a deadly health threat to the user. It also causes so much collateral damage that it must be considered a primary cause of crime, joblessness, and the destruction of innocent family members. Korea is often called the "Forgotten War" because it draws so little attention compared to other major conflicts. Nathan Baca and Jodi Andes of WBNS TV believe the children of Ohio are also largely forgotten when people consider the devastation of opioid abuse.

Baca and Andes reported on the safety of Ohio children caught in the heroin epidemic. We all know Children Services is supposed to be the ultimate protector of children in the state. Yet, Baca and Andes obtained a recording that calls into question "just how effective Ohio’s county agencies are in protecting children from the ravages of heroin-addicted parents."

The recording concerns a custody situation involving a 
Fayette County Children’s Services case worker who stated the following allegation: “We let parents keep their kids if they can
function on heroin."
What did Fayette County Children’s Services say about the charge? Administrator Dusty Ruth said his employee's words were “inappropriate” - but not wrong.

“The statement she made is correct, in that you can't move a parent's child from them unless you can show it's having a negative effect on the child," Ruth said.

That statement set off a 10TV investigation, determining whether Ohio counties are doing enough to keep children safe from the ravages of heroin at home.

(Nathan Baca and Jodi Andes. "Children at Risk: Drug Epidemic Affecting Child Safety.
WBNS-10TV. March 08, 2016.)

The "Children at Risk" report found that in recent state budgets, state funding for county children’s services has decreased while the burden has shifted to the counties to fund their own children’s services. Some counties have passed voter-approved levies to make up for lost funding. Other counties, including Fayette County, do not have additional levy money coming in.

In fact, Baca and Andes discovered case workers in Fayette County managed about 20 children each, instead of 12 as recommended by the Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services.

Without a doubt, children in the homes of addicts need significant attention. Without it, the risks are astronomical. But, the sad fact is this: Ohio is ranked 50th in the United States for providing state support for child protective services.

"We can double the amount of state support going to child protective services and we'd still be 50th per capita in the United States," said Joel Potts, executive director of the Ohio Family Services Directors Association. Still, some state officials argue the state ranks higher on other scales, including being 4th in the nation for overall funds spent on child welfare.

Why are children left in homes where heroin is present?

The WBNS investigation found that although parental drug use is a factor in deciding whether to take children out of a home, it is not an automatic disqualifier. Add to this the reality that the judicial process can take weeks, even months -- thus, the system allows plenty of time for unfit parents and guardians to inflict further damage upon innocent children.

“Children's services does not have the authority to remove a child. What we are charged to do is to assess for safety and future risk to children's safety,” said Franklin County Children Services Intake Director Lara LaRoche.

The judicial system is currently addressing the problem. 56 of Ohio’s 88 counties now have some form of drug court program. Some places like Franklin County have mandatory counseling for addicted parents and their children (9 to 12 month programs and 13 week parenting classes). The goal after graduation is to reunite addicted parents and their children, while keeping children in a safe place during the addict’s treatment.

Please read the entire article by Nathan Baca and Jodi Andes by clicking here:

My Take
A heroin addict cannot properly care for a child. Even if the addict somehow provides the child's basic needs -- love, doting attention, food, shelter, clothing -- emotional damage will likely cause permanent scars on the innocent, young person trapped in such an environment. Also, the lifestyle itself presents a significant threat from outside influences -- those suppliers who care only about profiting from the illegal drug trade.
When a child is forced to endure an addict's parenting, the drug, not the father or the mother, becomes the caretaker. In the long run, the abuse and the dealing of the substance appear routine. As the drug eventually provides the sole source of income through dealing, a child grows up beside criminal influences, and this causes skewed understandings of right and wrong.
The biggest influence to recovery for a loving parent who suffers from addiction is a child. However, the most crucial understanding this parent must have is that failure to beat the odds and embrace long-term sobriety severely damages loved ones. I have seen this damage up-close and personal so many times. It includes permanent disability, prison time, and death.
Ohio, we must protect the children. It is our duty and our obligation to the future. As harsh as it seems in cases where family love is evident, no child should be subjected to this abuse. 50th per capita is disgraceful. We cannot live with the present state of affairs. 

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