Above photo: New Stanton resident Bree Swarmer says her daughter, Brinlee, was born with some symptoms of neonatal abstinence syndrome. Swarmer was on methadone treatment to curb opioid cravings during her pregnancy. Photo by Maranie Rae Staab/PublicSource.
For more than a year, Pennsylvania leaders have been meeting to strategize about how the state can better protect infants affected by drug use.
While it remains worthy work at any time, the federal legislation requiring states to develop these ‘plans of safe care’ was passed 15 years ago. The effort is only recently picking up steam as the state, and the nation, find themselves in crisis mode over the opioid epidemic.
“While we are talking, bad things are happening to infants and children. Some of them will end up in foster care and sadly, some of them will be damaged,” said state Rep. Katharine Watson, chair of the House Children and Youth Committee.
Pennsylvania isn’t the only state lagging in the creation of its safe care plan. Fewer than half the states in the nation have implemented sweeping federal requirements intended to change the way the government tries to help drug-exposed infants.
The federal government could withhold funding from states that don’t meet progress benchmarks by June 30, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In Pennsylvania, the vulnerable funding amounts to nearly $1 million this fiscal year. That money helps fund mandated reporter training for people who are legally required to report suspected child abuse or neglect.
Read the entire story at PublicSource.