Ohio needs more foster parents to take care of kids affected by the opioid crisis

An Ohio child holds a heartbreaking sign.
(Image credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

In Ohio, half of all children in the foster care system are there because one or both of their parents are addicted to drugs, and the state doesn't have enough foster parents to take care of them all.

Ohio has been hit hard by the opioid crisis — it has the country's highest rate of fatal heroin overdoses, and that spills over into the child welfare system. There are more than 15,000 kids in Ohio's foster system, NBC News reports, and just 7,200 foster families, and on Thursday, Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) made a plea for help. "I want to issue a call to Ohioans who may be interested in being a foster parent," he said. "I ask them to make that leap and open their home to a kid or kids who could use a stable, loving home."

While officials try to place foster children with relatives, that's not always possible — in several cases, the entire family is dealing with drug addiction. The situation has become so bleak in so many areas — like rural Van Wert County, where 2015 statistics show that 100 percent of kids in the foster system were there because of parental drug abuse — that DeWine said he had to act. He says he is aware that his job doesn't involve the foster care system, but "it was a reaction to what I was hearing out there. It's not like we have all the answers, but we can use the bully pulpit of the attorney general's office to help."

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