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Research Letter
July 15, 2019

Trends in Foster Care Entry Among Children Removed From Their Homes Because of Parental Drug Use, 2000 to 2017

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Healthcare Policy & Research, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Pediatr. 2019;173(9):881-883. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.1738

After more than a decade of declines in the foster care caseload in the United States, cases have risen steadily since 2012.1 Between 2012 and 2017, the number of children living in foster care and entering care increased by 12% and 8%, respectively.1 One proposed explanation for this recent growth is the opioid epidemic, but supporting evidence is scarce.2,3 In this exploratory study, we examine trends in the number of children entering foster care because of parental drug use and describe changes in their characteristics over time.

We analyzed data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, a federally mandated data collection system that receives case-level information on all children in foster care in the United States. The database includes information on child demographic characteristics, health status, geographic area, and home removal reason (ie, physical/sexual abuse, neglect, child disability/behavior problems, child alcohol/drug use, parental alcohol/drug use, death, incarceration, inability to cope, abandonment, relinquishment, or inadequate housing). Data were deidentified, and this study did not meet Weill Cornell Medicine institutional review board’s definition of human subjects research.

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