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Children: the latest victims of opioid crisis

Erie County Family Court

Having enough people to foster each child in need has been a longtime problem, complicated by couples who both work. In fact, earlier this year Erie County ran out of foster parents, forcing kids to move as far as Jamestown to a new family who could care for them.

In the old days, it was often true that women did not work outside of the home and could take care of a foster child or a foster family. However, there is less of that today. Societal changes are requiring the constant recruiting for new foster parents.

Family Court handles adoptions when foster parents decide to shift children from the care of the county to themselves as legal parents.

"There's no doubt you are making a sacrifice. That's what parents do. We make sacrifices. I am lucky enough to be a parent," said Family Court Judge Lisa Bloch Rodwin. "But it's not just about making a sacrifice because: what do you get back? You get the joy of raising a child, of loving a child and them loving you. And what's equal to that? Nothing. That's the best thing you can do as a person."

Bloch Rodwin said the rising problem of parents who die from drugs - in the current drug abuse crisis, hundreds so far this year - is adding to the need for foster parents. She said her court alone has seen four suburban mothers die this year.

"The four parents who died of overdoses this year, in my court, who came in, they happened to be Caucasian," she said. "I had four parents die, so those children are going to need someone to raise them and love them. It cuts across all lines: economic, socio-economic, race, class."

Bloch Rodwin said too many kids are not in foster situations for the long haul, with the potential for the foster parents to adopt.

"The willingness and love in our community is the same as it has always been, but we are always encouraging people to look outside the people that might be on their Facebook page and in their social circle because there are always a never-ending supply of new children who need forever families," she said.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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