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Drug addiction becomes No. 1 cause children are removed from home

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The number of children being removed from their Duval County homes due to drug addictions is increasing at an alarming rate.

Lee Kaywork, of Family Support Services, said drug addiction used to be the cause of 40 percent of child removals. It's now soared to be the cause in 70 percent of cases.

Kaywork's organization contracts companies that handle child removals, adoptions and foster-care management. He said it's critical for a child to have stability.

The top three factors for removal are drugs, domestic violence and mental health.

"When you remove a child, you want to create a sense of urgency and permanency," Kaywork said. "There is nothing more traumatic for a child than removing their parent. Nothing."

Frank and Karen Byrne have already raised five children and adopted their granddaughter, too. They are now in the process of adopting Addie Ann, who was taken away from her mother because of her addiction.

"It’s a very special day. We are making our family bigger -- bigger than anything we ever expected," they said.

Kaywork says getting a parent rehabilitation is important, but if that doesn’t work, it’s important that children like Addie Ann finds a safe and loving home.

If you know a child that is being abused or neglected, you can report the situation anonymously by calling the Florida Abuse Hotline at 800-962-2873.

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