It's no secret the opioid epidemic is affecting millions of families around the world, leaving some kids without parents. Even if the parents are alive, many Idaho children are being raised by relatives while their biological parents deal with addiction, and in some cases, incarceration.
The majority of Idahoans taking in these affected children are grandparents; thousands of them across the state and most are lost when it comes to raising kids in the 21st century.
That's where the 211 CareLine comes in to help.
"We have about 10,000 kids in Idaho right now being raised completely by grandparents," Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Program Manager Courtney Keith said.
People who raised their own children decades ago can easily feel overwhelmed picking up parenting in a different era, and the situation is complicated even further when a child is born with Abstinence Syndrome, already addicted to opioids as a result of exposure while in the womb.
"I think that's a real struggle because they have a lot of complicated medical issues," Foster Care Recruitment Retention Program Specialist with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Sabrina Brown said. "Trying to find a skilled foster parent who can care for them when they're being discharged on feeding tubes; just the amount of needs that a child has when they're premature and drug exposed and experiencing withdrawal symptoms is significant."
But a state-run program operated by the Department of Health and Welfare is trying to help kincare providers navigate through parenting in the 21st century.
"We have helped great-grandparents in their 80's who are raising a rambunctious 8 and9-year-old," Keith said.
The 211 CareLine provides easy access to available resources online or by phone.
"We keep a list of all the support groups for kinship families across the state," Keith explained. "We can help them with legal fees, we can help them get birth certificates so the kids can get enrolled in school and have access to Medicaid."
Keith says the number one predictor a child will be successful as an adult is having a caring adult in their lives through childhood, and when raised by a relative the results are even greater.
"When they're placed with kin, they have fewer school changes, they have better grades, they have fewer behavioral and mental health problems. We look at fewer incarceration rates as they become adults, we look at fewer incidents of teenage pregnancy," Keith said.
The easy-to-navigate site also links families to opioid resources specific to the Gem State.
If you think the 211 CareLine could help you or someone you love, all you have to do is pick up the phone and dial 2-1-1.
If you'd rather browse resources online, click here .