By Darcy Olsen and Rebecca Masterson, opinion contributors
The Arizona Republic
America is in the midst of a drug epidemic. At Gen Justice, a 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to mending the broken child protection system, we spend a lot of time researching this crisis from a specific angle – the effect meth and opioids are having on children and infants.
What we’ve learned may not surprise you:
Children of the drug crisis are not making it out alive.
More and more children are living in dangerous and live-threatening conditions. The number of infants and children dying from maltreatment is at an all-time high – and most experts report that these statistics only scratch the surface of the real problem.
The constitutionally based goal of family reunification is an important one, however, I don’t think sending children home from the hospital with drug-addicted parents is what the Framers had in mind. A positive drug test from a baby means only one thing: The parent was using drugs while pregnant. The parent obviously has a problem and needs help. But allowing the child to remain in their care while they get the help they need seems a bit irresponsible. There exists a clear and imminent threat to the health, safety and welfare of the child. The only way this threat can be completely mitigated is for there to be around-the-clock supervision of parent-child contact after returning home from the hospital until the parent can establish a long track record of sobriety. The government will never foot that bill, so there is a real risk of harm to the child in the event of relapse.