Drug Abuse, Parenting and CPS: Where Do We Go From Here? (Part 1)

Can the state help mothers struggling with substance abuse? Or do they simply strip them of parenting rights?


Ask a group of 10 CPS agents about what they would do if a newborn baby was found with drugs in it’s system, and you would likely get 10 different answers. Why? Because the law isn’t actually very clear about what should happen in these cases. Some CPS workers would admit that a parent with substance abuse issues isn’t automatically a neglectful parent. Others would tell you that if a baby tests positive for marijuana at birth, their mother is obviously an addict and her baby needs to be taken away and placed in a safer environment.  


A Target 8 investigation conducted late last year revealed a connection between babies born with drugs in their systems, and a higher infant mortality rate. In reaction to this information, Senator Rick Jones initiated a bill, which he is now sponsoring with Margaret O’Brien, that would require CPS to perform home visits to each and every family where a baby is born with drugs in their system.


According to Senator Jones, Senate Bill 397 would also require that the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) would develop a “Plan of Safe Care” for each infant. “We must make sure that babies and their mothers with substance abuse disorders get the help they need, which would include evidence-based home visiting program and be tailored to each baby’s needs.”


Would a state run program help mothers to overcome addiction without losing their children?


In theory, this is great. Providing mothers struggling with substance abuse, and their babies with the health care and help they need to thrive and overcome obstacles is exactly what we need right now. But will that be what the program is? Or is this simply another avenue by which CPS can legally access a family’s home, make determinations about the parenting choices being made, and then remove the children as they see fit?


That remains to be seen. What we do know, however, is that there is a lot more involved in dealing with the issue of substance abuse and how it affects families with children, than just passing some new legislation. As we have already seen, laws don’t always solve problems. The fact that substance abuse and drug dependence has got worse, not better, since the “war on drugs” was implemented is a classic example of this. So what do we do now?


Ask that question and you’re likely to get a million different answers. So in the interest of getting an answer that’s actually viable, we looked at what professionals who deal with addiction are saying. Dr. Mark Calarco, the national medical director of American Addiction Centers, says that in order to properly address the issue of addiction, four things need to change.


Those four things are People, Cause, Stigma and Media. But what does that mean, exactly, and how can we change them? Everyone knows that talking about change is the easy part. Actual change is where it gets hard. So how can we in Michigan implement those changes, and in the process, save countless parents from unnecessary CPS intervention? Could addressing addiction really help us keep kids out of foster care? Many people think so!


Join us next time, as we start looking at the things on Dr. Calarco’s list, and how those items could help parents and children here in Michigan and around the nation. Until then, if you or a loved one have been accused of child abuse or neglect, you need to call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245. We have spent decades defending parents and keeping families together! We can help you too!