After a dramatic drop in the early 2000's, the number of children in the U.S. foster care system has gone up for the third year in a row.
There are now 428,000 children in foster care around the country, up 3.4 percent from last year. The states with the largest increases are Florida, Indiana, Georgia, Arizona and Minnesota.
Researchers point to one reason for the increase: a rise in parent drug abuse, specifically meth and opioids.
"I don't think it's a surprise when families parents are struggling with substance abuse he can have a significant impact on the children," said Dr. Robert Werthwein with the Colorado Department of Human Services.
From 2012 to 2015 the amount of children being removed where parental drug abuse was a contributing factor went up 13 percent nationwide, the largest percent increase of any other type of removal.
Researchers said it's going to take collaboration between communities and state service providers to address this challenge, something Werthwein said his agency is already working on.
"Communities are great at identifying the interventions that they need," he said. "They are reaching out to us and we are reaching out to them to work collaboratively and develop a substance-abuse specific intervention in each community."
All in an effort to lessen instances like these and the effects they have on the most innocent.