The opioid crisis is putting pressure on state foster care systems already at or near capacity, and taxing limited government resources, according to a report by The Hill newspaper. The analysis shows the number of children entering state or foster care rising dramatically, especially in states hit hardest by opioid addiction. And it says the children entering state care are younger than ever before and tend to stay in the system longer. The publication cited a recent Department of Health and Human Services study that found foster care populations increased by 10 percent between 2012 and 2016, growth attributed to the rising number of overdose deaths among parents. In West Virginia, which has the highest overdose rates in the nation, the foster population has increased by 42 percent since 2014, and in Ohio, the number of children in state custody has grown by 28 percent since 2015. Since 2014, foster populations are up more than 30 percent in Alabama, Alaska, California, Idaho, Indiana, Minnesota and New Hampshire since 2014. The Hill also noted that the epidemic, which began in rural America, has since spread to more urban areas, where heroin and fentanyl have become more prevalent, and that the crisis has struck across racial and generational lines.

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