The opioid epidemic ravaging states and cities across the country has sent a record number of children into foster and state care systems, taxing limited government resources and testing a system that is already at or near capacity.

An analysis of foster care systems around the country shows the number of children entering state or foster care rising sharply, especially in states hit hardest by opioid addiction. The children entering state care are younger, and they tend to stay in the system longer, than ever before.

Among states hardest hit by the epidemic, the populations of children in foster or state care has risen by 15 percent to 30 percent in just the last four years, The Hill’s analysis shows. In other states, the number of children referred to child welfare programs has ballooned, even if those kids do not end up in foster care.

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