UNH Research Finds More Children Removed from Parental Care, as Parental Substance Use Increases


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Tuesday, June 5, 2018
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DURHAM, N.H. – The number of children or youth removed from parental care increased by more than 50 percent from 2012-2016 and the percent that included a substance-related allegation doubled from 30 to 60 percent, according to new research by the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. Five percent of those removed from parental care in 2016 were born drug-exposed, up from two percent in 2012.

“The opioid epidemic in New Hampshire has strained not only the families coping with addiction but also the service providers who work with children and families,” said Kristin Smith, family demographer at the Carsey School and research associate professor of sociology. “Founded and unfounded cases of child abuse and neglect increasingly involve substance-use-related allegations or a noted risk for substance use. As a result, providing services to families where there is reasonable concern for potential child abuse or neglect can help families access the services they need and identify issues before they escalate into problems.”

Smith’s research also found that concurrent with the rise of the opioid epidemic is a 21 percent increase, from 9,248 in 2013 to 11,197 in 2016, in the overall number of child abuse and neglect cases accepted for assessment by New Hampshire’s Division for Children, Youth and Families. The percent of children in state custody placed in out-of-home care with a relative also increased, from 23 to 33 percent.

“The major barriers preventing parents from seeking substance use treatment—cost, the limited availability of family leave and the limited availability of child care—need to be addressed and in some cases were by proposed legislation,” said Smith.

The Carsey School of Public Policy conducts research, leadership development, and engaged scholarship relevant to public policy. They address pressing challenges, striving for innovative, responsive, and equitable solutions at all levels of government and in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.

The University of New Hampshire is a flagship research university that inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, nation and world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top ranked programs in business, engineering, law, liberal arts and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study. UNH’s research portfolio includes partnerships with NASA, NOAA, NSF and NIH, receiving more than $100 million in competitive external funding every year to further explore and define the frontiers of land, sea and space. 

The University of New Hampshire is a flagship research university that inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, nation and world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top ranked programs in business, engineering, law, liberal arts and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study. UNH’s research portfolio includes partnerships with NASA, NOAA, NSF and NIH, receiving more than $100 million in competitive external funding every year to further explore and define the frontiers of land, sea and space.