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Opioid crisis is sending kids into foster care, creating education challenges

Nov 10, 2018 by

Teachers and school administrators are on the front lines of this crisis, but often aren’t given the tools to help

Jodie Hicks, left, and her husband, Kevin O'Brien, right, with their granddaughter, Tessa. Tessa started living with her grandparents three years ago.

Jodie Hicks, left, and her husband, Kevin O’Brien, right, with their granddaughter, Tessa. Tessa started living with her grandparents three years ago.

This story about the opioid crisis and foster care was produced as part of a series, “Twice Abandoned: How schools and child-welfare systems fail kids in foster care,” reported by HuffPost and The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. 

Lafayette, Ind. ― There were about three agonizing weeks between the moment Jodie Hicks called child protective services on her son and the moment her granddaughter, Tessa, was taken out of his care.

She didn’t want to make the call. What kind of mother calls the authorities on her son?

And worse, what if her call made Tessa’s situation more difficult? She knew her son would be furious when he found out about it. If authorities didn’t find anything wrong at his home and he cut off contact, Tessa would be left to languish.

But she had seen what went on in her drug using son’s house and felt she had no other options. Her granddaughter, 4, was living in a filthy place where drug users came and went. She spent most of her time alone. She wasn’t properly being cared for.

Hicks, who works for an organization providing services for homeless families, had always kept a watchful eye on Tessa, providing stability and support amid the child’s chaotic home life. Those weeks ― during which, Hicks said, her son quickly figured out she had made the call and inundated her with angry messages ― she had no sense of what Tessa could be facing.

“There’s this little being there, who has no control over her life and is being subjected to things she has no say over,” Hicks said of her granddaughter. “Anything can happen during that time.”

Source: Opioid crisis is sending kids into foster care, creating education challenges

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