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PNS Daily Newscast - October 20, 2017 


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Kinship Caregivers Support Young Victims of Ohio's Opioid Crisis

Kinship care providers are often grandparents, aunts or uncles and sometimes, family friends. (Donnie Ray Jones/Flickr)
Kinship care providers are often grandparents, aunts or uncles and sometimes, family friends.
(Donnie Ray Jones/Flickr)
September 25, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio – September is both Kinship Care Month and Recovery Month, which this year is a timely coincidence in light of the high numbers of children in the child welfare system due to the opioid epidemic.

According to state data, about 15,000 children were in the custody of children's services agencies in August – 3,000 more than before the opioid crisis began about seven years ago.

Moira Weir, director of the Hamilton County Job and Family Services, says the immediate goal is to place children in foster care with a kinship care provider – someone who knows them and can guide them through a distressing time.

"They've lost what is most comfortable to them – their home, their neighborhood, their school – and then, you can't even place with your siblings, so then that's another layer of trauma,” she states. “So, that's why we want to really work with kin, because kin can help diminish potential events of trauma that can happen to a child when they get placed in foster care."

Between 2010 and 2016, there was a 60 percent increase in the number of children placed with kin in Ohio. Kinship care providers are often grandparents, aunts or uncles, or sometimes family friends.

Kasi Jordan of Cincinnati suffered a devastating loss this year when a cousin and his significant other lost their lives to challenges with drugs. She stepped up to become the legal caregiver for the three children left behind.

Jordan says she made it a priority to keep things as normal as possible.

"I was able to work quickly to minimize the time out of school for the children,” she relates. “It was important to me also to keep the children together. And that's how I ended up as the family member who ended up taking in the children."

With two teenagers of her own, Jordan's family doubled in size. And while there are struggles, she says she works to ensure each child gets the daily support and encouragement each needs.

"This circumstance will not define the path that these children take, as young adults and as citizens going into society,” she states. “So, I know it will be hard at times, but the payoff will come down the road. And so, it's just a sacrifice that I'm willing to make."

Jordan adds she firmly believes it takes a village to raise a child, and says she's fortunate to have the support of the extended family and her coworkers.


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH