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A Reflection on Our Connection with the Foster System

by Rachelle Crisan and WRC Staff

November 24, 2020

Women’s Recovery Center works closely with multiple organizations to assist our clients in their recovery, and one of them is the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). November is National Adoption Month. We felt it was necessary to shine a light on the amazing work our social workers and those at DCFS do each day. One in three children entering foster care are affected by drug abuse/addiction. In Cuyahoga County, there were 4,344 children in 2019 supported by the foster care system. Families affected by addiction have a hard time supporting the health and wellbeing of not only themselves but their loved ones.

Foster care provides a temporary avenue for struggling parents to get back on their feet and give care to adolescents. Cuyahoga County works hard to help reestablish a secure attachment between child and parent, with the goal of ensuring a child’s healthy development. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a little over 30 percent of foster children are staying with a relative during their time in the system. A study at the University of South Carolina in 2015 showed combining substance use disorder treatment and parenting intervention programs improved parenting outcomes and reduced cases of child maltreatment; substance abuse interventions enhanced healthy parenting interventions among the adult/child relationship. They looked at practices that promote a successful reunification to reduce re-entry to foster care, and found that drug and alcohol treatment services along with parental support helped to create a better outcome for families. This was especially true for “substance abusing mothers having experienced childhood trauma suggesting a need for gender-specific addiction services (Cordero & Epstein, 2005).”

We help women achieve permanent reunification as they continue their journey of sobriety. Our social workers create a plan to help provide women the opportunity to gain custody of their children and aid in regular visitations for their children. Through assistance and support, we believe achieving well-being for the mother through our program assists in creating a stable environment for the family. Not only do we aim to treat the addiction of our clients, but free the hold it has on those closest to them.

The Women’s Recovery Center’s case manager, Emma Lash, states, “I believe that parenting is greatly affected by alcohol and drug addictions. Children learn the behaviors of their parents from a very young age. Often parents believe that they are able to hide the addiction from their children, but that is hardly the case. Insight into addiction and parenting skills can greatly help rebuild a parent-child relationship.” Along with Cuyahoga County DCFS, we believe total well-being should be the goal for every family encountered. Our intensive outpatient programming and parenting classes do just that. In 2019, we reunited 17 families from the foster care system.

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