NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - A recent survey found a spike in the number of children living in foster care and a direct connection to the rising number of drug abuse cases nationwide. It’s also a trend that’s evident in Deep East Texas, according to CASA of Deep East Texas.
The number of children removed from their homes has more than doubled since 2000, according to research published in JAMA Pediatrics, which attributes parental drug abuse cases. The rising number has been largely driven in recent years by the opioid crisis.
“I’ve been doing this since 1999, and we started out with maybe 30 or 35 children in foster care when I worked for Child Protective Services,” said Tonya Harry, executive director of CASA of Deep East Texas. “That number had increased to at least 140, 150 before I moved over to CASA of Deep East Texas, and that was in 2015. And that continues to rise.”
Harry said the spike in cases was evident as recent as Spring 2019.
“Over the past year, we’ve seen a definite rise in the number of children coming into foster care,” Harry explained. “Normally, when I do a quarterly report, I’m showing that 35, 38 kids came into foster care, but maybe 30 children left foster care.”
“I’m seeing numbers now closer to 50 coming into foster care, and not that many are leaving foster care," Harry added.
With the rising number of children in foster care, it’s important that CASA has two things: foster parents and volunteers serving as advocates for children as they go through the court system.
If you’d like to foster children, or volunteer your time to serve as an advocate, please visit the CASA Texas website, choose your location, and apply.