The opioid crisis is taking a toll on Alabama's foster system. Florence Police arrested Kristen Smith on Tuesday, who they said gave birth at home and then went to a hospital, where she and her baby tested positive for illegal drugs.
WAAY 31 learned that these situations are common and now nearly 500 children in the area are waiting for homes, but the county doesn't have enough foster parents for them.
Assistant Director of the Madison County Department of Human Resources, Tyron Newton, said the department is seeing more and more children taken from their parents because of opioid and meth addictions.
"Drugs are the number one reason that we receive reports," Newton said.
Newton couldn't give us exact numbers, but he said the department has a shortage of homes to place the children in, causing it to stretch its resources thin.
"We are trying to recruit homes," said Newton. "From word of mouth through our foster parents, and also we reach out to civic groups and also churches."
Newton said the department holds two classes a year for people who want to learn about foster parenting. The classes are 10 weeks long and will teach the candidates everything they need to know about fostering, including how to properly care for a child born with drugs in their systems.
Anyone interested in becoming a foster parent can contact the resource supervisor, Jennifer Taylor, at 256-427-6298.