GRAND RAPIDS — Family Services reports increase in cases opened each month, drug use a big factor.

Family Services continues to increase the number of cases opened each month, according to Division Manager Becky Lauer, who provided the Itasca County Board of Commissioners a 2019 first quarter child protection report on Tuesday, June 11.

The department opened 163 new cases in the first quarter of 2019, explained Lauer, which included 282 children. Of those 163 cases, she said, 13, or 8% of the total, resulted in the out-of-home placement of children.

“There were 31 kids who were placed in out-of-home placement in the quarter; 12 with relatives, and 19 in non-relative foster care,” Lauer continued.

Eighty-five percent of the children were placed because of parental drug use, she continued.

“All but two of the cases resulting in out-of-home placement were due to parental drug use,” Lauer explained, noting the department is seeing “a huge increase” in drug use and the placement of children in the eastern side of the county, in Nashwauk-Keewatin, as well as in the northern part of the county, including the Bigfork area.

“Drug use is rampant in our county and we’re just fighting an uphill battle,” Lauer said.

Lauer urged the board to consider preventative measures that could be taken to address the issue as they begin to look at budgeting.

“We really need to look at what can we do to try to address this problem,” she said.

Also discussed during Lauer’s report were rates of adult protection intakes, adult and child mental health cases and more.

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