FOSTER CARE NUMBERS KEEP RISING
The numbers of kids in foster care in the United States increased again this year; the third year in a row that the count has gone up. And the cause, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is substance abuse. In Georgia the numbers are also increasing, drive at least in part by an increase in crystal meth and cocaine abuse.
The US had seen foster care numbers drop from 2005 to 2012. But increasing substance abuse by parents caused a reversal of that trend in 2013. According to the DHHS there were 427,910 children in the foster care system as of Sept. 30, 2015. That is an increase from just under 414,500 last year. The high peak for the number of children in the foster care system was 524,000 in 2002, the low was 397,000 in 2012.
Georgia, according to the DHHS report was one of the five states with the highest increase, joining Arizona, Florida, Indiana and Minnesota. Overall, three-quarters of the states had increases. Parental substance abuse was a factor in 32.2 percent of the 2015 cases in which a child was removed from home, a four percent increase from 2012. The two most commonly abused substances were opioids and methamphetamine.
One of the ways that we are seeing a direct result of those increased numbers at St. Vincent de Paul Georgia is in our management of the Georgia Department of Human Services/Clark Howard Christmas Kids Program. This is the second year that we have had overall coordination and management responsibility for the program under the direction of DFACS, and we have already – with over a month to go before program kickoff – an increase in the number of foster children participating in the program. Last year, at the end of the program, over 6800 foster children in Georgia. This year, a month out, the count is at over 7600; and it grows daily.
In order to help us meet the demand for more people to help the growing number of children, Clark Howard, WSB Radio, Walmart, DFACS and SVdP Georgia have added two additional live remote locations this year; increasing the total to nine. The number of volunteers and people willing to buy presents for the children has grown exponentially. The logistics and effort necessary to collect, sort, prepare, verify, and deliver these gifts to 109+ counties in Georgia is herculean. It is a 100% all hand effort for SVdP and many of our partners from the first of December up until just before Christmas. If you’d like to help let us know.