NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths are affecting more than just adults.
“Children are sometimes the unseen victims of this opioid epidemic, and we have to protect them and serve them, too,” said Sarah Eagan, Connecticut’s Child Advocate.
Eight infants and toddlers have died of fentanyl-related causes since 2020, and dozens more have been injured.
Officials are trying to understand how young children are getting access to the deadly drug. In the meantime, the Connecticut Department of Children and Families is changing its protocols to allow clinical social workers to partner with other medical staff to assess households that may have fentanyl inside.
“[Clinical social workers] can go with them to help them assess the situation, but to make sure that our staff who are responding to communities have the information that they need to make accurate assessments,” said Vanessa Dorantes, the department’s commissioner.
The quick response from frontline workers has helped prevent fatal incidents by using Narcan — an opioid overdose-reversal drug.
Eagan said that additional resources such as education, locking up medications and having a safety plan can lower risks.
“We have to talk to adults and caregivers about those risks,” she said.
She said the opioid epidemic encompasses two generations.
“For every adult struggling with substance abuse disorder in need of support and treatment, there may be a child who also needs protection and care and support,” Eagan said.