By Shawn Magrath
Sun Staff Writer
CHENANGO COUNTY – Chenango County has seen a nearly 25 percent increase in foster care placements over the last five years, and officials say drug abuse is largely to blame.
According to the Chenango Department of Social Services, the total reported number of foster care placements has steadily increased from 64 in 2012, to 85 in 2016.
DSS also reported a total 149 open preventive cases by the end of 2016, and 1,000 cases handled by its Child Protective Services (CPS) unit.
Increased efforts in preventative services, both within the department’s Child Protective unit and Foster Care and Adoption unit, led to a decrease in the numbers of foster care cases from a high of 115 children in 2002 and 2003, to a low of 59 in 2011. Since that time, numbers have steadily risen.
DSS Commissioner Better Osborne attributes that increase to county’s growing drug epidemic. Office of Children and Family Services placements, residential placements, and detention have all increased.