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Opioid epidemic forces children into foster homes

Posted at 10:43 AM, Nov 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-30 10:43:57-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- Ed and Sherri Torres' living room floor is covered in toys. There are blocks, stuffed dolls, and baby pillows strewn all over a blanket on the floor. 

They have four children and seven grandchildren of their own, but five years ago, they realized they could do more.

They are now foster parents, filling a need in Indianapolis that is growing because of the opioid epidemic. 

The need is so great, the Torres family didn't even realize they had their license when they got the phone call for a child.

They took care of two elementary school-age children for 18 months, then another call came. An 8-week-old baby needed to be picked up from the NICU. He's spent most of the first year of his life with the Indianapolis couple.

Brenda Chapin, the Vice President of Program and Administration at The Villages, a non-profit family services agency, said half the Indiana children in the welfare system are there because one or both parents has a substance abuse issue. 

"It may be something other than opioids," she said. "But certainly, opioid in the past couple of years have really made a huge impact on the system."

Chapin said children whose parents are addicted to opioids present unique challenges, as some children have been neglected through their lives.

Ed and Sherri Torres are sharing their experience to try and help others consider fostering children.

"These children need a safe environment to grow," Sherri said. 

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