Opiate epidemic straining central Ohio foster care systems

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NEWARK, OH (WCMH) — The opioid epidemic continues to hit central Ohio hard. 

According to a map by created by the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) and the Centers  for Disease Control in 2016, two central Ohio counties, Franklin and Licking, are said to have both high overdose deaths and high number of children entering into foster care and those numbers continue to rise. 

In November of 2017 Licking County passed a levy to help the children who are taken away from their parents because of addiction.

“The children are really the innocent victims in this drug epidemic,” said Kim Wilhelm who is the protective services administrator with the Licking County Job and Family Services. 

She provided NBC4 with these numbers. 

The numbers show that at the end of 2011, 292 children were in care. As of March 31, 2018, there were 530 children in care. 

In 2017, there was a total of 313 children that entered care. 

According to Wilhelm 86 percent of those children came into their care because of their parents’ substance abuse.

Rebekah Carl and Timothy Stoops say their children were a part of that 86 percent and are with child services right now. 

“We had struggled with drug addiction for years before we even had children,” said Carl. 

They lost their two daughters June 15, 2017. 

The couple says they couldn’t control their addiction and didn’t realize the damage they had done until it was too late. 

That was our rock bottom,” said Carl “That was my rock bottom 100 percent for sure when they took the kids.”

The couple is thankful for the programs that help them continue to recover to a better life. 

“In time, like things will be different, my kids will be back home again, like I will be a mom again and my life will make sense again,” said Carl. 

Carl added the hopes her story inspires others to seek help before losing their child. 

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