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Sheila McLaughlin reports:
Patti Jacobs first saw it on Christmas Eve 2007.
She was called into the office at Warren County Children Services, where a handful of crying small children had been taken away from their parents, who had been busted for heroin trafficking.
“I was like, ‘Heroin? What the hell? Are we back in the ’60s? What is going on?’” recalled Jacobs, who is now director of the agency where she’s worked for 24 years.
That marked the beginning of a surge of heroin-related cases at Warren County Children Services.
“And it’s gone downhill ever since. We are just inundated with these children. It’s horrific,” Jacobs said.
In Warren County – a primarily white, upscale area – only 6 percent of the cases in 2008 referred for ongoing services were related to heroin abuse. In 2011, that figure jumped to 73 percent.
That’s 106 cases involving 170 children.
Other counties in Greater Cincinnati are experiencing the same increase in their child protection systems.
• Thirty-three percent of Clermont County kids being removed from their parents are because of opiate abuse; 90 percent of opiate abuse is heroin.
• Half of the cases Hamilton County Children Services sees are heroin-related.
• The number of children being removed from their homes in Butler County because of heroin abuse doubled since 2010. In 2010, 25 percent of the children removed from their home because of parental substance abuse specifically involved heroin. In 2012, that figure jumped to 52 percent. Overall, since 2010, Butler County Children Services has experienced a 30 percent increase in the number of families receiving services due to any kind of substance abuse.