More than 1,000 Lucas Co. children in foster care due to opioid epidemic

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - New numbers released on Monday, show a 31 percent jump in the number of children in the area's foster care system. The big jump is due to the growing problem of heroin addiction.

Lucas County Child Services said that they're just treading water right now, and without the levy that passed last year, they would be drowning. They are currently spending $1,000,000 a month on placement calls.

The need for help is desperate and the young children's stories are heartbreaking.

"Just the other day we had a little fella who was found wandering around the streets and all he had on was a pair of shorts. I think he was 3-years-old, and he sat down here most of the day, and so we're desperate at this point," said Robin Reese, the Executive Director of LCCS.

Hundreds of little children and babies can't go to bed at home at night. They've been abandoned and traumatized by the growing epidemic of heroin addiction.

"This is the first time in my career that I have seen parents who have lost the will to get their children back," said Reese. "They are driven totally by getting the drug."

The numbers are staggering. At this time last year, 846 children were in children services custody or the custody of a relative. Right now that number has jumped to 1,007.

"The increase, I looked at the numbers today and I was shocked. " Reese said.

What's driving this? Opiates that often accompanied by other problems like domestic violence, child abuse and homelessness.

"Lately I've been telling people it feels like we've been fighting a wildfire with a bucket of water," Reese explains. "That's how serious this is."

Reese said the northwest area of Ohio is at the epicenter of the heroin addiction problem in the state.

LCCS has been trying to recruit caregivers, but struggling. Many foster parents are getting too old to continue, and not enough are getting trained.

"We just need people to understand that this epidemic has another face to it, not just the adults. There are children who are suffering as a result of this epidemic, " explained Reese

Anyone interested can make a difference in one of these children's lives. In just two weekends you can be fully trained to be a foster home or respite caregiver for a short period for one of these kids. The next training begins in just a few weeks, in August.

More details about the opportunity or a way to register can be found here.

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