Arkansas does not collect data that reflects the impact of methamphetamine abuse use on children, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families said today, leaving policy makers to rely on anecdotal evidence rather than hard facts.
Its report, “Poison, Problem and Perspective: The Impact of Methamphetamine on the Arkansas Child Welfare System,” found that abuse of cocaine, alcohol, marijuana and non-meth amphetamines are the primary reason for cases of neglect that send children into foster care, and that treatment programs are inadequate, especially those that allow mothers to stay with their children. There are currently only 32 beds available for that allow mothers to undergo treatment and maintain custody of their children, a “critical shortage,” AACF spokesman Paul Kelly said.
Data that is collected on persons who’ve abused methamphetamines does not identify parental status, Kelly said at a press conference this morning. Substance abuse surpassed incarceration in 2004 as the primary reason children end up in the state welfare system.
Kelly said he hopes that raised public awareness, through better data on methamphetamine use and all other drugs on the welfare of children, will pressure policy-makers to increase access to treatment in Arkansas, even offering coverage for such treatment under Medicaid, as do other states.
For the full report, go to www.aradvocates.org