PORTSMOUTH, OH (WOWK) – While the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious threat to the health and well-being of communities, another much older threat is still affecting families across the tri-state, that threat being the opioid epidemic.

The Scioto County, Ohio Children Services (SCCS) staff have seen hundreds of cases where addiction has torn apart families.

SCCS Executive Director Jason Mantell says one of their biggest concerns is the children who are affected. The underlying issue begins with the parents struggling with addiction and having their children removed from the home.

We’ve definitely been touched by that and I guess touched is a kind word, but we have a lot of people struggling with addiction which, obviously, that affects parents.

Jason Mantell, SCCS executive director

Scioto County residents have been battling the epidemic for more than 10 years.

Mantell says the impact has forced children into the foster care system, but the number of foster kids outweigh the number of foster homes in the area.

A little more than 50 foster homes have already been established in the area. But Mantell says they have more than 250 children in the system and currently only have a few new residents interested in becoming foster parents.

The Scioto County Commissioners held a special joint session with the SCCS staff on Monday to discuss the need further. The commissioners spoke on encouraging residents, who have the means and meet guidelines, to consider becoming foster parents.

Mantell says they have a few homes they will be inspecting this week before they can begin the foster care process, but they’re still looking for more areas that residents are willing to take on this title.

It would be wonderful if we could add people to our list which has fortunately grown, but of course, it takes a little bit of time.

Jason Mantell, SCCS executive director

For those interested in becoming a foster parent in Scioto County, click here for more information.