INDIANAPOLIS -- The opioid epidemic is expanding in Indiana and driving more children into foster care, according to a new analysis.
The 2018 Kids Count Data Book released by the nonprofit Indiana Youth Institute says more children are being removed from homes where parents use drugs.
In 2016, the institute found that more than 50 percent of children removed from homes by the state Department of Child Services was due to parental drug or alcohol abuse. Institute officials said that number jumped to nearly 60 percent for 2017.
Tami Silverman, the institute's president and CEO, said DCS workers confirmed the link between opioid use and the removal of children from homes.
"They had no qualms saying this is due to the opioid crisis," she said.
The study comes after a recent report from the Department of Health and Human Services showed a spike in fatalities resulting from child maltreatment. According to the report, Indiana's child maltreatment death toll more than doubled from 34 in 2015 to 70 in 2016.
Juvenile Judge Marilyn A. Moores said her Indianapolis courtroom has seen a surge in child welfare cases due to the opioid epidemic.
"It breaks my heart for the kids in this state right now," Moores said."Traditional systems of early warning are overwhelmed. And parents, because of addiction, aren't seeking intervention because their kids are going to be removed," she added. "It allows kids to die. It's a fact."
This story has been corrected to show that the Department of Health and Human Services' report says Indiana's child maltreatment death toll more than doubled from 2015 to 2016, not 2016 to 2017.