The Effect the Opioid Epidemic is Having on Children

Massachusetts Legislative Report: Chapter 55 Opioid Overdose Study - August 2017 (PDF)

Massachusetts, like many other states in our country, is grappling with the opioid addiction crisis. The opioid epidemic is not just being felt in a few of the Commonwealth’s cities and towns but is spread throughout the state.

One of the terrible effects this crisis is having on our state is the growing number of children placed into foster care because they’re born exposed to drugs. Between March 2014 and February 2016, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families removed more than 700 infants who were born drug-exposed from their families. Many of those children will experience withdrawal symptoms comparable to those that an adult in withdrawal would experience.

In 2017 the Massachusetts Department of Public Health estimated that 21.4 per 1000 live births are children born opiate dependent. In 2015 that number was 14.5 per 1000. Southeastern, MA has the highest rate of children born dependent, with over 2x that number, at 46.2 per 1000.

With 9,600 youth in foster care in Massachusetts, there is a great need for foster parents to care for and provide support for children of all ages with a variety of needs, including those born opiate-dependent. Through our Intensive Foster Care program, we train and prepare foster parents on how to provide a safe, loving and therapeutic home to help youth heal from their difficult experiences, including being born exposed to substances. We also train our foster parents to support foster children when they can reunify with their biological parents, which happens after the parents can recover and are able to have a healthier and more stable home for their children.

We’re proud to partner with organizations like To the Moon and Back to provide the most up-to-date training and support we can to foster parents caring for these children. We’re also offering three MAPP training courses over the next year, where those interested in becoming foster parents and making a difference in the lives of these kids can begin their journey. And at CFCS, we’re with our foster parents every step of the way.

In our line of work, we know that addiction affects all kinds of families. That’s why we’re just as proud to support all families to be safe, healthy and together. We help families get the resources and services they need to stay together. And we work hard across all our programs to help kids reunify with healthy families whenever possible.

If you have questions or you’re interested in becoming a foster parent, email or call 857-453-4061 today to find out how you can care for our most vulnerable children.