WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 26, 2011, 03:17 PM

More children ending up in foster care in Wilkin County

Breckridge, Minn. (WDAY TV) – It is a disturbing trend in Wilkin County. More children are forced into foster care because their parents are being arrested for drugs.

Six months. That's the time frame parents of children under 8 have to turn their life around before the state proceeds with terminating parental rights.

BECKY TRIPP - Social Services Superintendent, Wilkin County: “Recently we've taken three sibling groups of younger children and the parents are struggling with drug and alcohol abuse.”

It’s a number that Tripp says is alarming. Right now out of the 17 kids in the care of Family Services, 10 of them are coming from a situation involving the abuse of drugs and or alcohol.

BECKY TRIPP - Social Services Superintendent, Wilkin County: “What we see with the drug and alcohol related homes are a lot of chaos. A lot of people coming and going and children just don't have that stability and they don't have a person to rely on.”

Officials don't think actual drug use is going up. Many attribute amped up drug enforcement in Breckenridge and Wilkin County as a reason for the increase.

NATE HARDER - Breckenridge Police Chief: “You can't stick your head in the sand like an ostrich and pretend the problem doesn't exist. Once you actually start addressing a problem there will be alarming numbers like arrests that go up. Ultimately in two or three years is really when you start judging the effectiveness of your programs.”

Narcotics arrests jumped up 33-percent in 2010 in Breckenridge and it doesn't look like they're slowing down. Police officials say the department's new K-9 unit has already been a part of several arrests.

The Breckenridge Police Department is also part of a region-wide narcotics task force that has contributed to the jump in arrest numbers.