According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Over 50,000 people lost their lives from an opioid overdose in 2015, which is an 11 percent increase over the previous year. People as young as 12 years old have been treated for an addiction to heroin or opioid pain relievers such as OxyContin and Vicodin. The estimated cost of the opioid addiction in America is close to $80 billion.
As more and more parents fall victim to opioid addiction, America’s children continue to pay the price. The number of children being removed from their homes because of their parents’ drug addiction rose three percent in 2014. According to federal Child Welfare statistics, approximately 12 percent of all U.S. children under the age of 18 years old live with at least one drug addicted parent. While a large majority of these children are removed from the home, a significant number still remain in residence with their drug addicted parent.
Federal, state, and local child welfare and protective service agencies across the nation are finding it difficult to provide foster care and supervised visitation for all those in need. Supervised visitation enables parents to visit with their child, but in a setting where the child’s safety is best protected. Trained supervisors stay with the child throughout the visit, which requires more manpower than most agencies have available.
What Children Experience
Many children with addicted parents have witnessed them actively using drugs and have been present when law enforcement and emergency medical assistance have been called to intervene. These children are often traumatized by fear when they are unable to wake their unconscious parent. Many go without food, clothing, or medical attention. Their personal hygiene and living conditions are often compromised by addicted parents unable to care for themselves or their children.
When a child is removed from a home, child services will first attempt to place the children in the care of relatives, often with grandparents. When this is not an option, the children are placed into the already overwhelmed foster care system. For the safety of the children, parental visitation is often supervised. Parents wishing to obtain visitation rights must petition the court that will then take several factors into consideration.
A judge will consider the parent’s type of drug addiction, how long the addiction has been present, and what conditions existed that necessitated the removal of the child from the home. In most cases, parents requesting supervised visitation must be enrolled in a drug treatment program and have evidence of progress being made toward sobriety. If supervised visitation is granted, the court will come up with a schedule of visitation and conditions for the supervised visit.
While the courts try to facilitate the ongoing relationship between a parent and their child, supervised visits will not stop until the parent has demonstrated that they have been sober for a period of time, and that they maintain participation in an ongoing substance abuse program. Even when supervised visits end, the courts and child protective services will continue to monitor the child’s environment and safety.
Towson Child Custody Lawyers at Huesman Jones & Miles, LLC Assist in Determining Visitation Arrangements
The Towson child custody lawyers at Huesman Jones & Miles assist clients with establishing and monitoring supervised visitation in Maryland. Call us at 443-589-0150, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our Hunt Valley, Pikesville, and Towson, Maryland offices serve clients throughout the state.