(NewsNation) — Fifty-six children who had recent contact with Washington state’s child protective services died or nearly died of an overdose last year.
Nationwide, child opioid deaths have increased 52% since 2015.
Patrick Dowd, director of the Washington State Office of the Family and Children’s Ombud, poinited to an effort to keep families together when possible rather than, “Frankly, in some cases, needlessly removing children from parents’ care.”
At the same time, the country is in the midst of an ongoing national fentanyl crisis, he noted.
“I think our child welfare system is really struggling to reconcile both the laudable goal of keeping children in the home and preserving families along with ensuring child safety and dealing with the tragic influx of fentanyl affecting our communities,” he said.
The state report recommended additional training for both child welfare workers and foster families, according to the Seattle Times. It also recommended improving access to fentanyl test strips, naloxone and drug lockboxes.
NewsNation digital reporter Katie Smith contributed to this report.