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As opioid crisis grows, so does number of kids in foster care around Chattanooga Area

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A NewsChannel 9 investigation shows the opioid crisis is splitting innocent kids from their families.

State officials say drug addiction is pushing more children into an already crowded foster care system.

Hundreds of little feet have walked through the Williams's Walker County home over the past six years.

Dana and Dave Williams say they have now fostered more than 120 kids.

Lately, they've noticed more and more children are being sent to them to get away from a drug problem in their own home.

"A lot of the time they are a lot more educated on that culture and about drugs than we are," Dave said.

"That's really heartbreaking that that's their normal," Dana said.

Tuesday, Walter Jones with Georgia's Division of Family and Children Services told us the whole state is seeing that problem.

"We don't keep a direct keep statistics on what drugs our parents are addicted to, but from talking to our staff, we know that it's opioids," he said.

Numbers from the state show in the last four years, the number of kids in their care has gone up more than 44 percent. At this very moment, more than 14,000 little faces are in foster homes.

Jones says opioid addiction is proving to be so gripping it makes the agency's problem two fold.

"Not only do we have more kids in the system but that reunification process is that much more challenging," he said.

Right now, if there's no room for a kid to be fostered in their home county, they may be placed in a home hours away.

Dana says if more people would foster, kids would get to visit with their parents more.

"I think that it'd be motivation for the parents to get clean," Dana said.

That's why the Williams are willing.

"It is hard," Dana said. "But, we have to put the need to put the children's needs first."

The Willams have adopted six kids in the time they've been fostering.

They also started a non-profit called "Our Kindred Community" to help teens who are aging out of care.

If you'd like information on how to become a foster parent in Georgia you can call 877-210-KIDS or visit www.fostergeorgia.com .

In Tennessee, numbers show nearly 8,000 kids were in foster care as of October 2016.

Non-profit organization Alliance for our Kids says the opioid epidemic is also causing an increase of kids in Tennessee state care.

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