To the Journal editor:
I commend The Mining Journal for highlighting the scourge of methamphetamine abuse affecting our state in a front-page article on July 21. The article noted the increasing use of meth and its analogs, bath salts and synthetic marijuana.
The article emphasized the horrible impacts on children when their parents abuse and become addicted to these drugs. As the article stated, this is a dangerous and growing threat to our society.
The residents of the Upper Peninsula must be made aware of how devastating this problem has become in our community. Law enforcement and child protective services are more and more frequently required to step in to protect innocent children from the abuse or neglect of their meth using parents.
This has become an epidemic in our community.
I have personally witnessed the increasing frequency and devastating effects the increased use has on families in our community. I am a board member and mediator for Marquette Alger Resolution Services, a non-profit agency providing mediation services.
One of the services provided is mediation of permanent placement of children in foster care due to abuse or neglect by their parents, known as permanent placement mediation or PPM.
Studies have shown that using mediation to assist the parties in making this difficult decision results in saving almost one full year from the child remaining in foster care awaiting a decision from the courts. One year in the life of a 3- or 4-year-old is huge.
From 2005 through 2009, MARS mediated 22 PPMs, or just over four per year average. In 2010, we handled 14 PPMs. In 2011 the number rose to 32. This year we are on track to complete 35-40 PPMs.
Many of these cases involve more than one child, meaning that this year's PPM caseload could reflect the placement of over 100 children in homes other than with their parents.
Most of the PPM cases we see involve drug abuse by one or both parents. This dramatic increase in PPMs corresponds directly to the increased use of meth and its analogs in our community. This scourge has come to our community with a vengeance.
I want to express my appreciation to the workers in the legal and child protective/welfare services as they are in the front lines in dealing with these difficult cases.
Hopefully, we can work together to slow down or stop this epidemic.