Rise in Number of Foster Children in the United States

NJ Foster ChildrenAccording to a recent report from the Department of Health and Human Services, the number of children in the U.S. foster care system has increased for the fourth year in a row. The national data released in the report indicates that substance abuse by parents is a major contributing factor. Specifically, 437,500 children were in resource homes as of September 30, 2016, up from about 427,400 the previous year. The report notes that the peak of children in foster care in the United States was 524,000 in 2002, but that number dropped steadily to about 397,000 in 2012 before rising again as the opioid epidemic and other forms of drug abuse began to worsen across the country. In fact, 34% of children in foster care were removed from their homes because at least one parent had a substance abuse problem.

On the one hand, Acting Assistant Secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services Steven Wagner asserted that “the continued trend of parental substance abuse is very concerning, especially when it means children must enter foster care as a result.” On the other hand, Richard Wexler, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, which seeks to reduce the number of children unnecessarily placed in foster care, contends that some states are highlighting the drug abuse epidemic as a way of deflecting attention from shortcomings in their child welfare systems. Wexler suggested that “where opioid abuse really is a problem, [states should] make high-quality drug treatment, not foster care, the first-choice response [and] take another look at all those other cases that don’t involve drug addiction — such as the ones in which poverty is confused with ‘neglect’ and stop taking away children in those cases.”

The agency in New Jersey that is responsible for removing children from their homes and placing them in foster care is the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (“DCP&P”), formerly known as the Division of Youth and Family Services (“DYFS”). In any circumstance in which DCP&P places a child in a resource home or restricts a parent’s access to a child, the Division is supposed to bring the case to the family court for an Order of Temporary Custody or Care and Supervision.

If you are currently being investigated by child protective services in New Jersey, or if you have already been taken to court by DCP&P, you are undoubtedly going through a stressful time. You shouldn’t go through it alone – call the DCP&P defense lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm. Our experienced team of child protective services defense attorneys is always available to discuss your case and help you protect your rights. Contact us anytime.

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