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Strickland introduces legislation to support foster youth affected by the opioid crisis

Today, Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10), a member of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth and the Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus, introduced H.R. 5469, the Furthering Opioid Services, Training, and Education Resources (FOSTER) Act with Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Susan Wild (PA-07). This bipartisan legislation will provide training and resources for foster and kinship caregivers to support children and parents affected by the opioid crisis. 

The legislation would amend the 21st Century Cures Act to provide grants to states and localities providing child protective services to train staff and caregivers about the impact of opioid addiction on children under their care. The grants could be used for:

● Foster care workforce recruitment and training on the effects of parental opioid use on children

● Foster and adoptive parent education on the impact of opioids

● Addiction treatment services for parents

The opioid epidemic has affected countless families and communities across the United States. 1.6 million people had an opioid use disorder in 2019, and the situation worsened in 2020 with the United States experiencing its highest number of reported overdose deaths. 

In Washington State alone, 58,000 kids were affected by the opioid epidemic in 2017, including 7,500 removed from home for foster or kinship care. Children are entering foster care at higher rates alongside the rise in the opioid crisis, with the rate of child removals primarily attributed to parental substance use doubling from 18.5% in 2000 to 36% in 2018. Congress must provide dedicated resources to support children in foster care affected by the opioid crisis and to support parents with substance use disorders working to maintain custody of their children.

“Far too often, children are the silent victims of the opioid crisis. Opioid use among parents can push at-risk children into an overloaded foster care system without sufficient resources. By introducing the FOSTER Act, we are calling on Congress to support foster children and caregivers affected by the opioid crisis,” said Rep. Strickland.

“As our nation continues to grapple with the opioid epidemic, it is essential that we recognize the impact the epidemic has on children within families touched by problem drug use and addiction,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. 

“When opioid addiction strikes, entire families feel the impact. As a growing number of children enter foster care due to parental substance use, we must take steps to support all those who play a role in their lives,” said Rep. Wild. “This means providing resources at every level, from funding addiction treatment centers for parents to educating child caregivers and foster care workers on how familial opioid use impacts children. I am proud to support the FOSTER Act and its family-oriented approach to addressing the opioid crisis.”

The legislation is also co-sponsored by Reps. David McKinley (WV-01), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Don Young (AK-AL), Ann Kuster (NH-02), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), David Trone (MD-06), Terri A. Sewell (AL-07), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03) and Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01).

Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland serves as Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and is the only African-American woman who serves on the House Armed Services Committee. She is one of the first Korean-American women elected to Congress and the first African-American to represent the Pacific Northwest at the federal level.

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