Wallingford

Wallingford

Recently, The Ledger Independent published a series of articles dealing with the addiction problem that has become one of the greatest social problems communities have ever faced. The series was well written and very informative. The professionals who spoke about the problem, as well as those who have suffered from addiction, were very straight forward.

There was one area however, that was hardly mentioned, and that was the innocent children who are right in the middle of the addiction problem. There should have been another article for the series titled, ADDICTION - THE INNOCENT CHILDREN CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE.

Many of the individuals who have an addiction, also have children. A lot of those children are often exposed to that addiction. At some point, those children have to be removed from the home. Can you imagine the trauma to a two, three, or four year old toddler when a social worker, and a law enforcement officer, removes that child, or children from their home. The action taken is to protect those children. What happens to them? Hopefully, they are placed with grandparents or some other relative. In some cases, these children are already living with relatives because of the addiction. What if there are no appropriate relatives? More than likely the children will be placed in foster care, and enter the court system.

How long will it take their mom or dad, or both, to get "clean"? It could be months, years, or maybe never. If the children have been placed with grandparents, that's the best possible situation. Now they are with relatives who love them, and who will do whatever is necessary to protect them. Today, more grandparents are raising their grandchildren. If you could see a graph of the number of children currently being raised by their grandparents, the line on the graph would basically go straight up. Most of us probably know someone who is raising their grandchildren.

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What if the children have to be placed in foster care? That could be a good situation if the children are in a loving foster care home. But keep in mind that there are some people who get into the "foster care business" only for the money. There are times when the state support is not spent on the needs of those children in care. Today, there are not enough foster care homes. Some children from Bracken, Fleming, and Mason Counties have to be placed in foster care homes that are miles (50-60 or more) from here. That creates a problem for all involved in their case.

Children can not stay in the foster care system forever. Many times Kentucky has failed on this point. I have seen children stay in foster care for long periods of time. That is never a good thing. When the court finds that parents have not made the proper effort in dealing with their addiction, then permanent custody is usually given to relatives, if there are appropriate relatives (hopefully grandparents). If there are no appropriate relatives, then adoption becomes the goal, and eventually the parent's rights are terminated.

Innocent children should never be put in this situation. I understand that drug addiction is a disease, but ultimately, the finger must be pointed at the parent(s). An article in the addiction series should have included these innocent children, who are not at fault in any way.

Marty Wallingford is the former Director of the CASA Program for Bracken, Fleming, and Mason Counties, Inc.

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Editor

Editor and reporter, covering Mason County.

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