Child Abuse and the Opioid Crisis in America

Child Abuse and the Opioid Crisis in AmericaChildren in the Crisis

Children are often the unrecognized victims of the opioid crisis in America. From those left orphaned by parents who overdose to those exposed to opioid use in the womb, the opioid crisis overwhelmingly impacts children. And child maltreatment is just one type of collateral damage from the crisis. Coupled with the staggering number of children who lose their parents to opioid use, state child welfare systems are struggling to service all the child victims of opiate addiction.

The Contributing Factors

Substance abuse and dependency are factors in many child welfare cases. State child welfare agencies face a significant burden. They must help parents get healthy while protecting the children they affect. Not surprisingly, the efforts aren’t always enough. In many cases, children are put in foster placement while their parents are given services to help them conquer their addictions.

But overcoming addiction doesn’t happen overnight. Indeed, it’s a long battle for many, which calls into question New Jersey’s child welfare protocol regarding placement durations. Specifically, the DCPP (New Jersey’s CPS agency) may initiate guardianship proceedings when a child has been in foster placement for 15 of the last 22 months. In other words, they can try to terminate parental rights after a child has been in foster placement for 15 months.

Fifteen months is a relatively short period in which to overcome an addiction. As a result, the foster care system is overwhelmed with the number of children affected by the opioid crisis in America. Many children remain in foster placement for too long due to the drug treatment requirements parents must meet to reunite with their children.

What the Media Portrays

The media often depicts opioid-addicted parents as criminal child abusers who’re unable to care for their children. In reality, many parents who’re addicted to opioids have legal prescriptions and live relatively normal lives. Furthermore, New Jersey has recognized that drug addiction is not evidence of child abuse in and of itself. But a combination of factors, such as the inability to provide a safe home or a need to go through in-patient treatment, mean some parents who are addicted to opioids face the potential of losing their child if they can’t get clean.

Whenever facing child abuse or child neglect allegations, you need to be working closely with a seasoned child abuse defense attorney in New Jersey. No matter your circumstances and no matter the allegations, you deserve to learn about your rights and how to protect them.

If you are under investigation for child abuse, the Williams Law Group, LLC is here to help. The experienced child abuse defense attorneys at Williams Law Group, LLC can help you defend yourself. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.

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