Pubdate: Thu, 11 Jun 2015
Source: North Bay Nugget (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 North Bay Nugget
Author: Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles
Page: A1


SOCIAL SERVICES: CAS has 300 kids in care

The Children's Aid Society is sounding alarm bells.

The number of children in care combined with an in ux of babies born 
with neonatal abstinence syndrome is exhausting local resources.

Executive director Gisele Hebert said the number of babies born with 
addictions is unprecedented.

In 2012, she said, there were 22 babies born to a mother addicted to 
cocaine, crack,marijuana, morphine, methadone or Oxycontin.

In 2014-15, that number jumped to 48.

"These numbers are unprecedented for us," Hebert said Wednesday afternoon.

"Just in January we had 10 babies born with neonatal abstinence 
syndrome. These numbers aren't the same ones seen across the province 
or across the Northeast. It's isolated to our area."

Neonatal abstinence syndrome occurs when a pregnant woman takes 
narcotic or opiate drugs. e drugs pass through the placenta and the 
baby becomes addicted along with the mother.

The baby is still addicted at birth and may experience symptoms of withdrawal.

Hebert said calls were made a few months ago to community leaders to 
alert them of the situation.

"We've exhausted our own foster care system and we were forced to go 
outside the area to access foster homes in Huntsville and Emsdale."

Hebert said CAS North Bay doesn't like to send children outside the 
area but there were no other options.

The situation isn't improving.

CAS North Bay recently had to rent and staff a cottage because there 
were no other places for children in care to go.

Hebert said North Bay has about 110 foster homes and averages 230 
kids in care. ose numbers jumped in February when there were 260 kids 
in care. A few months later, CAS saw another spike with 300 kids in care.

A conference was organized Tuesday at Nipissing University that 
brought community partners together to answer questions.

"Why are our numbers so high? We're not sure. We're asking more 
questions than we have answers for," Hebert said.

"We're seeing parents with addictions more than ever. As well, many 
have mental health issues."

Police Chief Paul Cook called it a community problem not just a CAS problem."
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