Parents’ Substance Abuse Primary Reason Most Children Placed in Foster Care

The number of child protection reports is on the rise in Minnesota, and parents’ substance abuse is the primary reason most children end up placed in the foster care system. This disturbing statement came from by the state’s Department of Human Services. The agency accepted close to 31,000 reports of poor treatment involving more than 39,700 children (2016).

Substance Abuse Surpassed Neglect for Foster Care Placements

Of the children who were placed in foster care, parents’ substance abuse was the primary reason in 27.1 percent of cases. This reason surpassed neglect as the reason for placement. Prenatal drug exposure has grown since 2012, and this is also a concern. In 2016, 1,330 children were exposed to alcohol and other substances before birth, an increase of 113 percent over four years.

This data appeared in two reports presented to the state legislature: Minnesota’s Child Maltreatment Report, which focused on the child protection system, and Minnesota’s Out-of-Home Care and Permanency Report, which discussed children in adoptive homes and out-of-home care.

Substance Abuse Reached Crisis Point within State

Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper stated that substance abuse has reached a crisis point within the state. She said that the state must move quickly to help parents who are living with addiction.

Most clients who go into treatment complete their program and show improvement. They abstain from substance abuse and learn skills that they can apply on a long-term basis.

Minnesota increased funding for its child protection system by $25 million per year starting in 2015. Counties used the money to increase staff and provide additional services. The money was a reinvestment in funds following cuts to the system made more than 10 years earlier.

Majority of Children in Foster Care Able to Return Home

Ms. Piper announced some good news. She stated that the majority of children in the foster care system – 63 percent – left it in 2016 to return home, either to their parents or to other primary caregivers. In 2017, 868 children were adopted into permanent homes from the foster care system.