BUTLER COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - Advocates in Butler County said they're dealing with a huge spike in child abuse and neglect cases related to drugs. Now, they're desperately working to help the children.
"I've had children 3, 4, 5 and 6 that can tell me how to use drugs," CASA Volunteer Coordinator Sarah Owens said.
Representatives with Parachute Butler Co. CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, said when parents are addicts, the children are truly the innocent victims.
Now, more than half of CASA's child abuse and neglect cases are related to heroin.
"They can explain to you how to insert a needle into their arms. They have found their parents passed out. They've had to call 911," Owens said.
CASA leaders said many times the best thing for the children is to get them out of the home, at least temporarily.
"That's a really scary thing for a child. If you can imagine being 3 or 4 and someone's knocking on the door saying 'you're coming with me,'" CASA Executive Director Chris Schultz said.
The children move through the court system, waiting to find out where they'll go next.
"May have to change schools, things that are familiar to them are now different. They've sleeping in different beds. They have a different routine," Owens said.
A CASA volunteer is by their side the whole time, advocating and working to keep each child safe and even bringing them toys and goodies hoping it gives the kids a sense of stability.
The goal is to keep families together, but FOX19 NOW was told that's not always the best option. Some end up with a relative, while others move into foster care or will be adopted.
It's a sad reality, but Schultz said it makes a positive difference.
"Makes you happy because you know that this child now really has a chance," he said.
With more and more cases pouring in and heroin not disappearing, CASA is frantically searching for more volunteers to help them help the children.
If you're interested in volunteering, you can find out more information on Parachute Butler County CASA's website.