Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Wednesday: Buchanan To Chair Anti-Heroin Child Welfare Hearing

May 17, 2016
Press Release
Florida Leading the Way in Protecting Children

Children of Drug Addicts “Often Forgotten” Yet “Most Vulnerable”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, announced today he will chair a hearing of the House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee on Wednesday, May 18 at 2:00 p.m. in Room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

The hearing is titled The Heroin Epidemic and Parental Substance Abuse: Using Evidence and Data to Protect Kids from Harm. It will feature testimony from a Hillsborough County service provider that uses data to predict when kids in the child welfare system are vulnerable – before they’re harmed. It will also feature three witnesses from programs in other states.

Drug abuse is a major contributor for children across the country entering foster care. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in 2014 of the 353,040 children found to be victims of maltreatment, more than one in four, or 91,903, were reported as having caregivers with drug abuse problems.

“Plenty of attention is paid to the systemic problem of drug abuse, but the children of drug abusers are often forgotten – even though they’re the most vulnerable to physical and mental harm,” Buchanan said. “We should be doing all we can to put kids and families in a better position to succeed. After all, strong families make strong communities.”

In Florida, the problem is no less grim for kids. Buchanan represents Manatee County, the epicenter of the heroin crisis in the state. According to the Bradenton Herald, a total of 388 children in Manatee County were sheltered in out-of-home placements primarily due to substance abuse during the first eight months of 2015.

Also driving child welfare cases are pregnant mothers and babies born addicted to opioids. A baby is born dependent on opioids every 19 minutes in America as a result of the mother’s addiction.

“As Congress continues to combat the opioid crisis it is important to remember Americans at all ages can be impacted by deadly drugs, not just adults and teens,” Buchanan said. “In my role as subcommittee chairman I will continue to ensure our children are supported on a path to well-being.”


  • Mr. Bryan Lindert, senior director of quality management, Eckerd Youth Alternatives (Hillsborough County, Fla.).
  • Mr. Hector Glynn, vice president of programs, The Village for Families and Children (Hartford, Conn.).
  • Ms. Tina Willauer, director of sobriety treatment and recovery teams, Department for Community Based Services, Kentucky Cabinet for Health Family Services (Frankfort, Ky.).
  • Ms. Katherine Barillas, director of child welfare policy, One Voice Texas (Houston, Texas).

WHO: U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL.

WHAT: House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee Hearing: The Heroin Epidemic and Parental Substance Abuse: Using Evidence and Data to Protect Kids from Harm.

WHEN: 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 18, 2016.

WHERE: Room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building.