Majority of Arizona’s Foster Children Come from Drug Abusing Parents

By Shawn Dwyer 12/10/13

The Copper State has seen a drastic spike in the number of kids being put into Child Protective Services, but the biggest concern has been the rise in drug-addicted babies.

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AZ has seen an explosion of foster kids.
Photo via Shutterstock

According to the Arizona Department of Economic Security, some 10,141 children were removed from their birth homes in 2012, with roughly 59% of those children taken away because their parents were abusing drugs or alcohol.

With a sharp increase in heroin and prescription drug abuse over the last five years, Arizona’s Child Protective Service has concurrently seen the rise in the number of children entering the system, including babies that have tested positive for drugs. “There’s more of a focus on keeping track of parents with babies that are born with substance abuse,” said Jinny Ludwig, executive director of the Northern Arizona Office of Ameripsych, a privately held provider of foster and adoption service. “More immediate action is being taken.”

In fact, some places have seen a rise of 50 percent in the number of babies entering their facilities who are testing positive for drugs. “CPS does have a visible presence here because we have so many high-risk babies with challenging family situations,” said Dr. Alan Bedrick, chief of neonatology at the University of Arizona Medical Center. “We’ll have babies ready for discharge, and we are not able to send them home because Child Protective Services has not been able to find placement.”

Overall, there has been a spike in children being put into Arizona’s CPS, and more than 15,300 kids are currently in foster care.  While the national numbers show an 18 percent decrease from 2007 to 2012, in Arizona the number of children entering foster care skyrocketed by 48 percent and deep cuts to state services have been to blame. “The state Legislature is the real culprit here,” says Eric Schindler, president and CEO of Child and Family Resources in Tucson. “The choices they have made, the cuts they’ve made, have real-world consequences.”

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.