CHENANGO COUNTY – The number of children in foster care in Chenango County is on the rise, according to the Department of Social Services, and it's drawing more concerns about the local drug epidemic.
The Chenango County Department of Social Services reported a total of 76 children who entered foster care in 2013. That number is an alarming increase from the 64 children who entered foster care in 2012, the department says, and local drug use is largely to blame.
“We currently have 44 children in foster care. Three are in a relative foster care placement,” said Misty Davis, head of the foster care unit for the Chenango County Department of Social Services. “20 of the children we have in care are there due to their parents’ drug and alcohol misuse. Other children we have in care, we know that's a tipping factor but it's not the primary reason they entered foster care.”
Until 2013, the number of children in foster care remained relatively flat in the county, increasing only slightly from 62 to 65 in 2010. In 2011, the numbers dropped to 59.
“We try very hard to make sure a child doesn't enter foster care,” Davis added. “Our primary goal is to keep families together, so we look at parents' families and see of there's any relatives who can care for a child before they enter foster care.”