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Opioid crisis packing foster systems

Opioid crisis packing foster systems. (WPEC)

92,000 children nationwide were removed from their homes last year due to a parent’s drug use, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Many of these children in the U.S. foster care system has increased due to the opioid uptick, and Florida is among the states with the highest increase in cases.

Tom Lukasik and his wife fostered more than 50 children since 1994.

"It's been really great to see kids that were kind of on a path of despair to be able to put them on a path of hope. We see their lives change right before our eyes,” said Lukasik.

He is now the Vice President of Community Engagement for 4Kids of South Florida, an organization that provides foster homes in our area. He said the opioid crisis is taking a toll on those who open their hearts and homes. Therefore, it’s hard to let them go after forming the loving bond, but it’s important for families to reunite.

"We always try to think it's better for them to spend some time in our home, rather than in a shelter or institution program where they're not getting the love of a mom and dad,” added Lukasik.

ChildNet helps manage foster care systems with the Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF). They tell CBS12 substance abuse is the number one reason children are brought into the system. They’ve seen a 45% uptick in cases this year alone.

“We're going to need more homes to take care of the kids, so that means we're going to needy families in Palm Beach County stepping up,” explained Gillian Moxey, Community Relations Coordinator at ChildNet.

Foster parents like Lukasik believes the problem isn’t going away anytime soon. That’s why he is encouraging others who can to foster because these children really need your help.

"Open your heart, open your home, so you can also provide hope and healing to a child in need,” said Lukasik.

If you’re interested, visit ChildNet or call 4Kids of South Florida at 954-979-7911.

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