Tip Sheet Tuesday: Supporting Kids from Families Who are Affected by Drugs

Picture1Five-year-old Shadia and her two-year old brother Kyle were left at home unsupervised and caring for each other for two days. Their mom and dad were partying with friends, using meth and lost all track of time. Their parents were arrested, and the children were taken into custody. As a result, the kids are now in foster care.

Some children may have been exposed to drugs while their mom was pregnant and others have witnessed drug use by family members. How does this exposure affect your children in care? How can you support them?

Researchers estimate that one in four children live in homes with chemical dependency issues. Studies by the Child Welfare League of America have found that substance abuse is a factor in at least 75% of all placements in out-of-home care.

Insight into the Children
Recognize that many children who come from drug-affected families have backgrounds of unpredictability, chaos, and danger.

Additionally, people who use drugs often promote secrecy, and there is often a lot of mistrust and shame. Try to gather as much information as possible from your social worker about the child in your care (or who will likely be in your care) and his or her family history.

Children will be affected by their parents’ drug use in various ways, depending upon their age when the problem developed and escalated, the parents’ pattern of use, as well as the drug of choice and how fast it can become additive.

Not all children are affected the same. Drug exposure is just one factor that creates a person, along with culture, environment, support, and caregivers.

However, when children are exposed to drug use, the physical, emotional, behavioral, and educational development is often affected and interrupts normal development.

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