From the Director

j_ringerMARION, OH (March 2018) –

Marion Community,

The life of 1 out of every 9 children in our community was touched by Marion County Children Services in 2017. We responded to 844 concerns of child maltreatment last year and experienced record numbers of children in foster and kinship care. A major contributor to the increased need for our services over the past five years is Ohio’s opioid epidemic and the effects on Marion County’s SILENT VICTIMS – THE CHILDREN.

The primary reason children were removed from their homes was parental substance abuse. Placing these children with kin, while a top priority, is complicated by the fact that opioid use can become a multi-generational family addiction. Consequently, we must often turn to foster care. Many of these children are quite young. 82% of children in foster care are under the age of twelve; 55% are ages 5 and younger.    

Statistically, parents who are addicted to opioids are likely to relapse – some multiple times during their recovery process – thus their children remain in care longer. If parents cannot demonstrate sobriety, or if they fall victim to a fatal overdose, then children come into the permanent custody of our agency. Not surprisingly, the number of children adopted through our agency (11) in 2017 increased 38% since 2013.

Children who enter the custody of Marion County Children Services because of their parents’ substance use are demonstrating more complex needs due to the trauma experienced in their home. For babies born drug-exposed, many require more intensive levels of care to address their withdrawal symptoms. For children who have witnessed horrific drug-related scenes such as their parents overdosing, many of them require higher levels of care to address their adverse experiences and stabilize their behaviors.

Maintaining more children in custody and addressing the trauma they experienced is increasingly expensive. Marion County Children Services spent $701,198 in total foster care placement costs in 2013; by 2017, costs had more than doubled to $1.56 million. In 2017, 44% of our expenditures were paid with local funding; 45% with federal funding; and 11% with state dollars.

Protecting children from abuse and neglect while stabilizing families remains one of the most challenging jobs in social services. Our ability to meet the increased demand in services would not be possible without the community’s long-standing history of support to child protection. Please take a moment to review our 2017 Community Report. Do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or presentation requests.

 

Respectfully,

Jacqueline Ringer, MPA/LSW

Executive Director