A Crisis in the Foster Care System
More than half a million children are in foster care in the United States today (Nakyanzi). Children are entering foster care systems because they have been abused, neglected, and abandoned. The main problem is that there is a dramatic increase in the number of children entering foster care systems from the massive outbreak of parents being addicted to alcohol or drugs. With that being said, there is not enough people to take care of all these children in need. Like myself and many other potential future social workers, we realize that the amount of foster children is drastically increasing. This is a problem that needs to be studied in hopes we can make things better for the families and children. However, this topic is something that all social workers need to grasp the importance of, and realize that being in this field and putting in work towards foster care is an important matter.
It is devastating to say, many children are born addicted to drugs. Some children are born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or other drug related conditions because of the mother abusing alcohol and drugs while being pregnant. The Child Welfare League of America has shown studies that substance abuse plays an enormous role in 75% of all placements in out-of-foster care. Eighty percent of states have reported that parental abuse of drugs and alcohol is one of the most common problems occurring in families (The Impact of Substance Abuse on Foster Care).
Generally speaking, children usually spend over a year in foster care, but more than half of them get reunited with their parents. There are some children that end up leaving the foster care system only to end up right back in there. So sad to think that nearly one-quarter of children are adopted by their foster parents because the parents could not get their lives back on track for their children. Since drugs and alcohol are taking over parents, almost 20,000 children of ages 18 or 21 will be at an increased risk of no educational outcomes, no place to stay, and no job that provides income (About the Children).
To come to terms with this, it is in people's nature to sadly partake in the use of drugs and alcohol. We must understand that this is not something that will end anytime soon. Helping people feel more comfortable with their actions when it comes to finding themselves mixed up with drugs is a necessity. People are usually nervous of the consequences that they may find themselves in if it becomes too late. Most of the time, these people that are doing the drugs and alcohol mean no harm to their children. Addiction is a strong and nasty thing that controls a person's mind. It can make a person do things that they will ultimately regret.
Addiction to drugs and alcohol can be caused by many things, such as anxiety, stress, and even boredom according to Sharon of TheJenniferact.com. A solution to this would be to raise awareness on letting people know it's okay to seek help on a situation as dire as it is. As previously stated, people using drugs is going to happen. Retaliating against their addiction is a key step into fixing this problem. There is an estimated 20.8 million people who need treatment but have yet to receive it. Some people feel as though they do not need it. Not knowing where to go for treatment and worrying about what others will think of them take up a big percentage of it (Common Reasons Why). We need to raise awareness on where one can go and reestablish self esteem that it is okay to receive help if needed.
Another solution would be to make all drugs legal. This may sound weird at first but when it comes down to it, it does make a lot of sense. This eliminates a lot of places that a person would have to go to find these drugs. Essentially starving the marketplace of their income. In essence it eliminates the criminal marketplace. Legalisation also comes to accept that drug use is in fact normal and that it is a social issue (10 Reasons to Legalize All Drugs). Coming to terms that it's a social issue will allow for more people to admit their drug usage and feel less embarrassed about the fact of it being so.
Hiring more social workers is a must when it comes to the foster care system. These are the people in the facilities that talk to drug users and the children to help them get through the tough times. Sometimes these people have no one to talk to and essentially feel alone. Having someone to talk to and help them through the demons they are facing will help a lot more than people think. According to Teresa Wiltz of Pewtrusts.org, Several states, such as New Hampshire and Vermont, have either changed laws to make it possible to pull children out of homes where parents are addicted, or have made room in the budget to hire more social workers to deal with the emerging crisis. Essentially what she is saying is that the more weapons and tactics to face this, the better the outcome for these people and their children.
The best solution would be to build more foster care systems and to have rehabilitations nearby in order to give the children safety measures and the parents a chance of survival. So many children are taken from their homes, causing them to be put into the foster care system. With so many drug users, we need to adapt to new expenses and organize the system itself. Drugs aren't going anywhere anytime soon, so we might as well get prepared for the worst.
In conclusion, children that have to deal with the pressing issues of things that are beyond their control is heavily unfair for them. This isn't just the parents using the drugs, it is a problem for society as a whole. Children could learn from their parents, and a rough life could follow. Keeping the tree of drug usage continuing and only growing. Instead of bashing people for using drugs we need to as a community come together and try to help them.
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