Burleigh County Social Services see spike in child welfare cases

BISMARCK, N.D. - Children need parents, but unfortunately, more of them are being taken away.

Burleigh County Social Services says there are several factors contributing to the spike in child welfare cases.

Rising drug use, population growth, and larger families are factors being attributed to the growing problem.

A Bismarck grandparent, who chose to remain anonymous, says she's concerned about her grandchild's well-being.

"When one of the parents met a drug user and started using with them, they neglected the children completely." - Bismarck grandparent

Now in a relative's care, she says she still worries about her grandchild who she believes didn't receive enough support from Social Services. She says there's others in her grandchild's shoes.

"It is a crisis that the general population is not aware of, until your family is drug into it." - Bismarck grandparent

Kim Osadchuk, Burleigh County Social Services’ Director, says there's more child welfare cases every year. Her office is managing increased caseloads with their staff. She says court appointed referees are also busy.

"We could always use more staff, unfortunately, budgets are a constraint for us." - Kim Osadchuk, Burleigh County Social Services Director

Osadchuk says child welfare is a community problem, and that the nature of cases have also changed. In the mid-2000s she says the agency was handling entirely different cases, and that the drug epidemic has contributed to more and more cases today.

"We've had multiple babies coming into foster care in the past several weeks, drug related, we have a need for foster families." - Osadchuk

Burleigh County Social Services will receive a portion of their administrative cost from the state in 2018, and the rest will come from counties. The agency won't be able to add additional staff at this time.

Osadchuk says they will continue to follow growing trends and see what they can do in the future with adding more staff.