Tuesday, February 2, 2010

2009 GCASA Admission Data - What about the kids?

We know from research that families that have a substance abuse problem have a high prevalence of child maltreatment.

At GCASA 17 of the 341 admissions in 2009 had active child maltreatment cases open at the time of admission, while 23 of 606 admissions in 2009 in Genesee County had active child maltreatment cases open. There were also 5 open child maltreatment cases out of 103 in residential services clients.

Over all there were 45 people with active child maltreatment cases open admitted to GCASA in 2009 out of the 1050 admissions or 4% of cases. Last year, 2008, 6%, or 66 of 1094 admissions were involved in Child Protective Services.

3% or 31 out of 1050 of GCASA's 2009 admissions were parents whose children were in foster care. These parents had 58 kids in foster care. This is a huge expense for the counties responsible. Getting their parents sober and into recovery so that they can parent their own children would be a big relief to the foster care system and save enormous amounts of tax dollars. Unfortunately, re-unification is always possible or even desirable, and there are no resources for family oriented services to facilitate this re-unification. GCASA sees the need for and would very much like to do this kind of work, but there are no funding sorces to pay for these services.

What do these statistics mean?

1. It is clear that substance abuse is a family disease and affects far more people than the addict.

2. The societal costs of substance abuse are significant with an overlap of services from the child welfare, family court, and substance abuse system.

3. Substance abuse counselors at GCASA must be skilled in dealing with much more than just addiction when you consider the negative consequences of addictions on parents, their children, and other family members.

4. Is the reduction in percentage of admissions with involvement in child protective services significant, and if so of what?

5. Innovative programs run by the State Department of Social Services and the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse services to team up substance abuse counselors and child protective workers were run on a demonstration project basis in 2008 and 2009 in Genesee and Livingston Counties. GCASA was chosen by the Genesee Department of Social Services and the Livingston County Department of Social Services to create was was dubbed the "co-location program" meaning that child protective workers and substance abuse counselors would be co-located. The program was very successful but when State government hit on financially hard times it cut the funding for these programs. Rather than provide services to prevent foster care placement our State government has decided it is better to just pay for foster care. I do not have the data to show which approach is cheaper and more effective but I strongly suspect that the co-location strategy is not only more effective and humane in the long run but cheaper for the taxpayers as well.

When you see the beer commercials on Super Sunday which promote good family times with super bowl parties of which tailgating and drinking have become such a part of our American sports experience, remember the kids.

The kids damaged from parental drinking and drugging are pretty much hidden away quietly in our society where shame leads to all kinds of avoidance, denial, and secret keeping, but we here at GCASA know because we see it in approximately 1 out of 20 people who walk through our door for help.

A parent who becomes sober and gets into recovery not only benefits him/herself, but their children too, and grandparents, and teachers, etc.

This is article #2 in a series on 2009 GCASA Admissions Data.

No comments: