Montpelier, Vt. - The opioid crisis continues to affect millions across the country and is even impacting our children.
The Department for Children and Families showcased how the opioid crisis is impacting Vermont children during a presentation to lawmakers on Tuesday.
"The impact that we have experienced is unprecedented,” said Karen Shea, DCF Interim Commissioner.
Shea says there are more than 500 children aged five years or younger in state custody, more than half of those cases involve opioids.
Shea said, "Our staff has become more acutely aware of the risk that addiction issues can create for small children and we are doing a good job in identifying risks for kids.”
According to Vermont State Police heroin and other opioids continue to flood into the state by out-of-state dealers.
"Every family member is affected and it is very common for it to be both the mother and father, boyfriends and girlfriends lots of people staying in these houses where heroin is coming in and out and there are kids there,” explained Captain John Merrigan, Vermont State Police.
The Regional Partnership Program is just one collaborative effort developed to fight the issue. The partnership is between DCF and LUND and is designed to integrate child welfare and substance use disorder treatment programs.
"If we ever expect to get ahead of the problem with opioids, we need to break that cycle which means we have to help the children, we have to help the mom, the dad, the family members and we have to stick with them so that they can really turn the corner,” said Barbara Cimaglio, Vermont Department of Health.
The committee will meet again in January or February and they say they'll continue to find ways to ensure the safety of Vermont children amid an opioid crisis.
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