SIDNEY — Shelby County Job and Family Services, along with the Sidney-Shelby County Health Department, see the damage drug addiction causes for local families.
“The Children Services Division has had a significant increase in the number of reports and court filings due to the opioid crisis. We are finding the need for law enforcement assistance has increased dramatically due to high risk/dangerous situations. We have taken extra precautions due to the potential exposure to harmful substances and environments. Overtime has increased due to inflated caseloads,” said Dave Jenkins, Children Services administrator for Shelby County Job and Family Services.
“Overtime has increased as has the number of children removed and placed in relative and foster care. The use of relatives as a placement resource has kept placement and foster care expenses in check although foster care costs have increased since the onset of the opioid/drug crisis. There are miscellaneous costs associated with placing children with relatives due to them needing assistance when taking on the responsibility of caring for the children,” said Jenkins.
From July 1, 2017 to today, 57 children have been removed from homes due to addiction.
“Most of these children have been placed in relative or kinship homes in Shelby County or the regional area. The others have been placed in foster care. There is a desperate need for more licensed foster homes,” said Jenkins.
On a positive note, Jenkins said, the number of overdoses are decreasing.
“I believe there has been a decrease in overdoses over the last 6-9 months. There seems to be significant increase in the use of meth and cocaine. We are being told that many addicts have moved to these drugs in an attempt to get off of opiates. I also believe the Counseling Center’s Vivitrol Program has been successful in helping some addicts and has reduced the number of overdoses. Mike McRill’s work with addicts has also had a positive impact. When I speak of the reduced number of overdoses I can only speak for the impact on Children Services cases,” said Jenkins.
Jenkins said the Shelby County Drug Task Force is another positive influence for the county.
“I feel the Drug Task Force has coordinated efforts very well and provided much needed education to the community. I feel some of the committees that were developed as a result of the Force have been successful in developing programming and coordinating efforts,” said Jenkins.
The health department, said Health Commissioner Steven Tostrick, is concerned about diseases that are shared during drug abuse.
“The Sidney-Shelby County Health Department provides communicable disease control services. As an essential public health service, communicable disease control personnel report, investigate and work to prevent spread of infectious diseases in Shelby County,” said Tostrick. “Shelby County health care providers must report all positive reportable diseases to the Health Department. An epidemiologist is on contract to perform early surveillance, provide statistical reports, and assist in disease investigations. Free HIV testing is available at the Sidney-Shelby County Health Department on the third and fourth Wednesdays of the month.”
Tostrick said the health department uses strategic planning to help provide resources to help county residents. The board continues to discuss reduction efforts in relation to communicable disease.
He said the task force is a benefit to the community.
“The Shelby County Drug Task Force has impacted the problem through consolidation of various agency resources in Shelby County. It provides an overview of the problem and ways to share forward thinking action to try and combat the issue locally,” said Tostrick.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.