Charlottesville Nonprofit: Opioid Epidemic Affecting Foster Care

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DePaul Community Resources hosting a news conference DePaul Community Resources hosting a news conference
Hope Robinson Hope Robinson

A Charlottesville-area nonprofit says the opioid epidemic is impacting the foster care community.

DePaul Community Resources says more children than ever before are entering the foster system because of the rising number of deaths attributed to opioid use.

"Right now, there's a shortage of foster families in Charlottesville and surrounding counties. This means children are often forced to change schools and leave friends and family who helped raise them. They are often times placed outside of their community, away from their family and friends, and so it has a significant impact on their emotional well-being," said Hope Robinson with DePaul Community Resources.

The nonprofit says it receives more than 20 referrals a month for children in need of foster care in Albemarle County. It is looking to identify 60 new foster families by May.

DePaul has partnered with B2C Enterprises to launch the "Fostering Everyday Life" campaign. The nonprofit is now sharing short videos about the benefits of becoming a foster parent on social media.

It hopes to inform people of the shortage and encourage them to become foster parents.

"We're asking for communities here in Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the surrounding areas to spread the word about the need for more foster homes. Maybe there's someone in their family or a neighbor or someone that would do an excellent job as a foster parent," Robinson said.

Last year DePaul Community Resources helped 97 children find homes.

01/30/2018 Release from DePaul Community Resources:

Charlottesville, VA. January 30, 2018 - DePaul Community Resources has officially launched their Fostering Everyday Love Campaign after conducting four simultaneous press conferences across Virginia this morning. The nonprofit organization announced a rapid increase in children and teens entering the foster care system due to multiple types of abuse and neglect.

DePaul is launching a targeted outreach program to find at least 60 homes for hundreds of children over the next four months.

"In Charlottesville and the surrounding counties, there are more than 400 children and teens in the foster care system," said Hope Robinson, interim regional foster care director at DePaul. "They are in need of a safe, loving family home to help them heal from neglect, abuse, or other trauma."

Virginia is ranked the worst in the nation for children and teens in the foster care system aging out before they can find permanent homes. The statistics are looking even more dismal due to the rapidly increasing number of children entering into the system from multiple forms of drug abuse, especially the opioid epidemic. Addicted parents are sent to rehabilitation or treatment centers, incarcerated, incapacitated, or even found dead, leaving children and teens to fend for themselves.

"The repercussions of this runaway opioid epidemic are felt community-wide, maxing out the foster care system, as children are removed from homes in chaos," said Nancy Hans, executive director of the Prevention Council of Roanoke. "Addiction is an intensely local problem that hits families and children the hardest, so we rightly focus from the ground up in community engagement, as with our UrgentLove.org Initiative."

DePaul specializes in recruiting foster homes and providing training to create safe places for local children with specific needs to heal and grow. In 2017, the organization connected 281 children and teens with safe and healing foster family homes. Additionally, through DePaul's adoption program, 96 children and teens were officially welcomed into their forever homes. DePaul hopes to reach their Fostering Everyday Love goal by May. To learn more about DePaul Community Resources or becoming a foster parent, visit www.depaulcr.org.

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