PUEBLO, Colo. - Currently, about 300 kids are in foster care in Pueblo County. Most of the reasons kids are placed into the system have decreased by roughly 50 percent over recent years.
"We'd like to think that our families are getting stronger and our community is coming together," Pueblo County Child Welfare Program administrator Lee Hodge said.
However, Hodge has seen drug abuse placements increase by 50 percent over the past five years.
"When you have factors such as poverty, when you have availability of drugs on the streets and when you have also some prescription drugs that have been more potent, then you have addiction issues," Hodge said.
Last year the Pueblo Police Department seized nearly 3 pounds of heroin. Out of the 650 citations school resource officers issued in 2016, 26 percent were for narcotics violations.
"My concern with it is it's becoming a family tradition to start shooting up drugs whereas old family traditions might have been drinking alcohol together," Crossroads Turning Points' Substance Use Disorder Director, Diane Hayhurst- Vigil said.
Hayhurst- Vigil has seen the opioid problem grow in Pueblo over her 24 years at Crossroads.
"We're not seeing any decrease right now, so I'm thinking we have a few more years to go," Vigil said.
Both she and Hodge are hopeful the community will help stop the growth of the epidemic.
"We'll be able to help get the right treatment at the right time to those that are affected with substance- abuse issues and help families to heal and come back together," Hodge said.