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The opioid epidemic has become so severe it’s considered a national public health emergency, and a recent report suggests it could be linked to a higher rate of children in foster homes.

Foster Homes Overwhelmed By Opioid Epidemic

Feb 16, 2018

Florida foster care providers are struggling to keep up with the number of children entering the system as a result of opioid-related deaths. 

When lawmakers arrived at the Florida Capitol on Monday, they found thousands of cutouts of brightly-colored children's hands hanging in the rotunda, signifying the start of Children's Week.

Florida lawmakers are working on a measure they hope will help the children of incarcerated parents move forward faster. Fort Lauderdale Democratic Representative Patricia Williams has a bill she says would help to map out a plan for parents and their children.

Unless Florida lawmakers act, an organization created to aid in the efforts of Florida’s Guardian ad Litem program is set to expire later this year.

As the opioid epidemic swells the tide of abused and neglected children coming into the state foster-care system, a Florida judge is trying to find them a "forever" home, in time for the holidays.

A new government report says the number of children in the U.S. foster care system has increased for the fourth year in a row, due largely to an uptick in substance abuse by parents.

The report, issued annually by the Administration for Children and Families of the Department of Health and Human Services, shows that 437,500 children were in foster care by the end of fiscal year 2016. A year earlier the number was 427,400.

Governor Rick Scott says he wants about $200 million for Florida families who adopt foster kids.

Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

This week on Florida Matters we're taking another listen to our discussion about foster care in the region.

Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

Manatee and Sarasota Counties have seen overdose deaths from drugs like heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil spike in the past few years. At the same time, the number of children being removed from their homes and placed into the area’s foster care system has skyrocketed. There’s a connection between the increases.

Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

There's been a spike in the number of kids being removed from their homes in the Tampa Bay Area over the past few years. And foster care agencies are struggling to keep up with the influx.


Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

This week on Florida Matters we're talking about the challenges those who work in the foster care system are facing and how it impacts the children they serve.


Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

As Health News Florida reported last week, the opioid crisis in Manatee and Sarasota Counties is putting a strain on their foster care system. But the situation isn't entirely bleak. Now we'll hear from one mother whose relationship with her son's foster parents helped her reunify her family and overcome her addiction.


Changes to Florida’s child-welfare system, sponsored by Rep. Cyndi Stevenson (R-St. Augustine), are finally law after two years of debate in Tallahassee.

Stevenson said her 100-page measure gives investigators more power to keep kids safe.


Florida’s Guardian ad Litem Program has received a $40,000 grant to help older youth aging out of foster care better transition into adulthood.

Florida has launched an initiative to find more foster parents for children with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

 

Two bills to help the state’s foster kids are now heading to the Governor’s desk.

A number of claims bills which found Florida’s child welfare agency at fault are now heading to the House floor. Among them is a high profile bill involving twins that further compensates the surviving victim, in an abuse case that took his twin sister’s life.

A preliminary hearing was held Thursday in the case of Naika Venant, the 14-year-old girl who broadcast her suicide on Facebook Live  from her Miami Gardens foster home earlier this year. It was the second suicide of a teenager in foster care overseen by the agency Our Kids in less than 60 days.


When most children in the foster care system turn 18, they’re on their own…Today, we’ll hear from a young man in a Miami supportive housing program called Casa Valentina, where young people get counseling and academic support and learn about building a life and career. Deon Richards is 22 now. WLRN's Rowan Moore Gerety  spoke with him  about what it was like becoming an adult as a ward of the state.

 

Study: DCF Must Improve Foster Child Care

Jan 23, 2017

The federal agency has given the Florida Department of Children and Families 90 days to devise a plan to improve care for foster children.


Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office / Facebook page

Florida detectives are investigating the death of a toddler who was in foster care and about to be adopted.

Wikimedia Commons

Tonight (Aug. 30), there's a town hall meeting at The Dream Center at 922 24 St. East in Bradenton from 6 to 8 p.m. At issue is the desperate need for foster care families to take in the children who've lost parents to a heroin epidemic in Manatee County.

DCF To Move Ahead With Foster-Care Changes After Bill Fails

Mar 16, 2016

A bill aimed at reforming the way Florida foster children are placed in group homes died on the last day of the 2016 legislative session.

Lawmakers Poised To Pass Child Welfare Bills

Mar 3, 2016

After a spate of child deaths in Florida, the Department of Children and Families is doubling down on child welfare reforms. Now state lawmakers are poised to pass a suite of bills to bolster that effort.

House Panel Looks At Foster Care Options

Nov 19, 2015

With the rate of children coming into Florida's foster-care system slowly increasing, state lawmakers are studying how to improve the options of where the children go to live.

Senate Bill Would Overhaul Foster-Care Placements

Oct 28, 2015

A bill aimed at reducing instability for foster children has started to move forward in the Florida Senate and would require the child-welfare system to match kids with their best placement options --- rather than, as critics charge, the first beds that are handy.

Rules Focus On Gay, Trans Foster Youth

Jul 14, 2015

As the state Department of Children and Families considers a new rule governing group homes for foster kids, advocates are pushing to include provisions requiring better treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths who live in such facilities.

The agency is updating its rules for group homes for the first time in almost 30 years to try to bring more uniformity to the facilities, which are supposed to be short-term solutions for children in state care.

A new study from The Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that 13 percent of Florida's 18 thousand foster youth are living in group homes instead of with a family.   That's just under the national average of 14 percent.

WUSF's Lisa Peakes spoke with the foundation 's Tracey Field about Florida's ranking.

A new study shows that 13 percent of Florida's 18,000 foster youth are living in group homes instead of with a family.

A national report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation revealed 57,000 of the 400,000 foster children in the U.S. live in group placements. Colorado had the highest number at 35 percent.

These placements have been shown to be harmful to a child's opportunities to develop strong, nurturing attachments. Those who grow up in group placements are also at greater risk of being abused and being arrested.

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