For over a year, Vermont has seen a spike in the number of children taken into the state’s child protective service system. Normally, the most common age group to be seen in state care is adolescents, but it has shifted to younger children. Deputy commissioner Cindy Walcott says this is a result of parents using drugs such as heroin around their young children. The Department of Children and Families began stepping in more after two toddlers died in the care of their drug-addicted parents and the state found other similar situations.
Some don’t feel that taking the children out of the picture is necessary in every case, like pediatrician Anne Johnston. “I want to say that the majority of them can parent very effectively,” Johnston said. “Addiction is a disease like any other disease, and it needs to be treated that way.” There are programs in place, and more are in the works, for parents with substance abuse problems. The groups hope that pregnant women will seek their help, and not be scared off. Some parents may want to avoid seeking treatment out of fear of losing custody of their children.