Children are "invisible victims" in heroin battle

Children's Services workers are having problems when trying to help kids impacted by their parents' drug addiction. (WSYX/WTTE)

An 18 month old girl is recovering at Nationwide Children's Hospital after Portsmouth police said they believe she suffered a heroin overdose. Officials said it will be several days before they know what the child ingested. While it is possible little Alonna Bolden may be able to be released, it's unclear if she will be placed with relatives or a foster family.

The girl's parents, Brandy Estep and Jason Bolden were arraigned in court Thursday on child endangering charges. Their bail set at $50,000. They remained in the Scioto County Jail on Thursday night.

Across Ohio children of parents addicted to opiates are flooding into the state's child protection system. Angela Sausser, Executive Director of the Children Services Association Ohio called them "invisible victims." A recent survey by PCSAO found that half of children taken into custody in 2015 had parental drug use identified at the time of removal and 28 percent of children removed had parents who used opiods, including heroin and fentanyl.

"They are being neglected and you know we say there is no functional parent that is addicted to opiates and that is so true. They are passed out, trying to find their next drug, they're not paying attention to what is happening to their children," said Sausser.

"Several counties have shared recent stories where they are taking the kids with them to go buy the drugs. They are witnessing all of this we are really in a war here and the kids are the victims," said Saucer.

Social workers said it's becoming harder to find homes for foster children.

"In the past if mom was struggling with substance use we would call grandma we would call the sister, we would call the cousin. And we are finding more often now with the opiate addiction that the rest of the family is addicted," said Sausser.

According to the PCSAO more children are remaining in care longer due to the time it takes a Horton addict to recover, thus reducing the number of available foster homes.

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