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States looking for family to take on child custody duties

The drug addiction crisis has shown no signs of subsiding anytime soon. It appears that no one is immune to the problems it causes, including the youngest victims -- the children of addicted parents. While every state -- including South Carolina -- has been affected to some degree by this harrowing problem, a few states are looking for creative ways to address the issue of child custody for those caught in the middle.

Over the past few years, a federal program has been initiated in a few states that is providing funding for relatives to be located in an attempt to place children with family members. One state in particular is using all available means to locate and contact family members for children whose parents are unable to provide a suitable home. Officials stated that an estimated 15,500 children were received into its foster care system in 2017 due to parents who have been affected by the problems relating to addiction -- including incarceration. Unfortunately, the state only has about half that many foster homes available.

A program that is using both federal and state funding is allowing officials to track down other relatives who are capable of providing a proper home for these displaced or orphaned children. The program in Missouri has already proved to be successful. Ohio counties are now seeing available homes opening up to children who purportedly adjust better when they are cared for by family members. One such relative who lives in Baltimore, Maryland, has been granted custody of her grandchild even though she resides in a different state.

Every situation is unique, and no child is released into the care of anyone who is deemed unfit, regardless of the possible relationship between the parties involved. For the time being, this program is allowing Ohio counties to find the best child custody plan for those who have already experienced significant trauma in their lives. South Carolina parents or relatives who are concerned for the well-being of a child who may be in an unhealthy or unsafe home environment whether due to divorce, suspected neglect or other serious issues may seek the assistance of an experienced and understanding family law attorney in order to determine the best solutions for the children involved.

Source: dispatch.com, "Counties seek family members to care for kids of addicted parents", Mary Beth Lane, Feb. 4, 2018

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