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CAS Policy Busted

July 27, 2011 permalink

After police bust a marijuana grow-op children's aid often puts the kids in foster care. But does that really benefit the children? According to Dr Gideon Koren it does not. Only the abstract is available online but here is a summary by a journalist.



Grow-op kids shouldn't be in foster homes: Study

Gideon Koren
Doctor Dr. Gideon Koren, director of the Motherisk Program at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, published a study that says separating children from parents who are charged with grow-ops is not good for the kids. Vast majority of kids do better by staying with their parents.
DAVE ABEL/Toronto Sun


Children living in grow-op homes are healthier living with their parents rather than being placed into foster homes, a study shows.

The study — published in The Journal of Pediatrics — found the majority of children removed from drug-producing homes after their parents were charged, were healthy, drug free and attended school.

Their health problems were fewer than those in the general Canadian population, the study reported.

The study examined 75 York Region children with an average age of 6 1/2-years-old.

About 80% of the homes were marijuana-growing operations or homes where large quantities of drugs were found, while the remaining homes were engaged in cocaine or amphetamine production or had multiple drugs — including marijuana, cocaine, MDMA or heroin — being produced or stored.

Two out of 75 children did better living in foster homes, while 73 of the children studied did better staying with their parents.

“We concluded kids do very well living with their parents. When kids were separated from their parents for a short of long term, we found the kids became depressed, confused and worried and they did not do well in school,” co-author Dr. Gideon Koren, senior scientist and director of the Hospital for Sick Children’s Motherisk program, said.

Koren said legal reasons or other safety issues may require the child to be removed from the physical location drug production, but there is no medical justification to automatically separate kids from their parents.

“Each case needs to be evaluated individually, case by case, and children should not be separated automatically from the parents,” Koren said.

He said the two children who were not medically well was because their parents were producing crystal meth.

Of the 75 children, 45 were of Asian heritage, 28 were Caucasian and two were Hispanic.

In the early 2000s, York Regional Police and York Region Children’s AIDS Society unexpectedly dealt with a surge of drug-producing homes.

York Region Children’s AID Society asked Koren to perform the study to refine their approach of automatically placing children in foster homes after their parents were arrested for the grow-ops.

“This study has already changed our practice,” Patrick Lake, executive director of York Region’s CAS, said. “Since 2007, we developed a more customized and comprehensive process to determine the best response on a case-by-case basis, while looking for ways to safely maintain children with their parents or relatives,”

“The study is informative in the sense it tells us there will not be any lasting events on children found in these environments,” York Regional Police Deputy Chief Bruce Herridge said.

Source: Toronto Sun

Addendum: Below is a response showing that some people have the kind of bias that cannot be altered by facts. Truth is that parents who run a business do a good job of caring for their own children, even when that business is illegal.



Study paints incomplete picture

ISSUE: Study indicates children living in grow ops don’t demonstrate health problems.

A new study by a senior scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children is casting doubts on the health risks faced by children living in illegal grow ops and questions the Children’s Aid Society’s need to automatically remove them.

The study of 75 children removed from drug-producing homes in York Region between 2006 and 2010 indicates the majority were healthy and drug-free.

In fact, Dr. Gideon Koren says the health problems found in these children were actually fewer than those in the general Canadian population.

While that’s good news for the children, the study does a disservice by even suggesting there’s no health risk.

The study, conducted at the request of the York Region CAS and York Regional Police, focused only on illicit-drug exposure.

What about the health impacts of living with the mould often associated with grow ops? What about the health impacts of explosions known to occur in makeshift methamphetamine labs? What about the risks that come with living in a house police say is more likely to be targeted by thieves or rival drug producers?

Without considering these risks, it’s no wonder grow op children appear healthy. They’re practically living in an oxygen-rich greenhouse.

If you want to study the health impacts of illicit drug exposure in children, study children who grow up in homes where drugs are smoked/used, not grown.

Dr. Koren’s assertion that there is no medical justification to automatically separate grow op children from their parents is misleading.

A release from Sick Kids — it’s that name and reputation that likely keeps this study from being dismissed by most — goes so far as to liken the health impacts of living in a grow house to living on a farm.

Fortunately, the York CAS isn’t about to change its ways because of the study.

Executive director Patrick Lake said he can’t envision a scenario where a child found in a commercial-grade drug lab would not be apprehended, acknowledging the difference between a lab and someone growing a couple of plants.

York deputy police chief Bruce Herridge agreed, noting the study won’t make the force change the way it does business because there are many health hazards in grow houses.

That’s the kind of common sense missing from the study.

BOTTOM LINE: Misleading study downplays health risks of illegal grow ops.

Source: (affiliated with Toronto Star)