Rhode Island’s foster care system is using social workers — already strained by a devastating opioid epidemic — to give foster kids rides to school.

Patricia Hessler, chief of staff for the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, pointed to two social workers in the southern part of the state who each spend four hours a day driving foster kids to school.

That doesn’t leave a whole lot of time to do the really critical work with children and families they need to do. Even more than the dollar amount, the strain and wear and tear on social workers who already have high caseloads and now have to drive four hours a day is absurd.

Transporting students isn’t their responsibility, and it isn’t the responsibility of the state foster care agency to pay for that transportation, according to a recent decision by the state Department of Education. It’s a stopgap measure, a byproduct of Rhode Island’s fitful efforts to implement a federal education law that requires school districts to make sure foster youth are transported to school. In many districts, this isn’t happening, and in some, social workers have stepped up to temporarily fill the gap.

But if a new bill in the Rhode Island state Senate becomes law, their department’s involvement in student transportation may become permanent.

Read the full article on social workers ferrying foster kids to school by Daniel Heimpel at The 74