August 9, 2005

State of Alabama
Press Release: Human Resources, Department of

DHR Deputy Director Testifies Before Congress at Methamphetamine Hearing in Washington

Deputy Director of Family Services, Freida Baker, represented the governor's office and the department by testifying at a congressional subcommittee hearing on July 26th in Washington, D.C. The testimony was before the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources, chaired by Mark E. Souder of Indiana.

Those testifying represented federal, state, and local law enforcement and public child welfare staff, all of whom addressed the impact of crystal methamphetamine (meth) on major human service systems.

Ms. Baker testified that, "The number of children in the custody of Alabama’s Department of Human Resources has increased over the past three years. In 2001, there were approximately 5400 children in foster care at year’s end. In 2004, that number had risen to 6346. That number continues to rise."

According to surveys sited by Chairman Souder, "Children are increasingly becoming the primary victims of meth abuse. The surveys found that 40% of child welfare agencies reported an increase in "out of home placements because of meth in the past year."

According to figures cited by Ms. Baker, the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) is among those agencies cited. "Reports of child abuse or neglect related to crystal meth (in Alabama) have risen dramatically. In 2001, only 3.9% of Alabama admissions to foster care were due to substance abuse. Last year in Alabama, nearly 20% of admissions into care were a result of family substance abuse." Stated Ms. Baker.

The surveys noted by Chairman Souder were conducted by The National Association of Counties (NACo). They detail the impact that meth is having on law enforcement agencies and child welfare services. The surveys, entitled: “The Criminal Effect of Meth on Communities” and “The Impact of Meth on Children: Out of Home Placement” surveyed hundreds of counties nationwide on the effects of meth. The NACo law enforcement agency survey reported that nearly 60% of responding counties stated that methamphetamine was their largest drug problem.

Also testifying before the subcommittee were:

  • Nancy Young, PhD., Director, National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare, Washington, D.C.
  • Valerie Brown, National Association of Counties, Sacramento, California
  • Chief Deputy Phil Byers, Rutherford County Sheriff's Office, North Carolina
  • Sylvia Deporto, Deputy Director, Riverside County California Children's Services
  • Betsy Dunn, Investigator and Peer Supervisor, Tennessee Department of Children's Services CPS Division 

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