On Thursday, January 11th, 2024, the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a hearing on “Stopping the Flow of Fentanyl: Public Awareness and Legislative Solutions.” Witnesses Mr. Jason “Jelly Roll” DeFord, Mr. Patrick Yoes, and Mr. Christopher J. Urben testified on how the problem of fentanyl in the U.S. should be considered a national crisis. Chairman Brown (D-OH) highlighted the Fend Off Fentanyl Act that was introduced by Ranking Member Scott (R-SC) and unanimously passed by this committee and how it is expected to curtail the flow of fentanyl and, consequently, its death toll.

Mr. DeFord emphasized in his testimony how every American family is impacted by this issue—crossing socioeconomic levels, races, ethnicities, and ages. Senator Britt (R-AL) called attention to two specific cases where children were harmed: two young brothers who shared a single Percocet that was laced with small amounts of fentanyl and died, and a two-year-old girl who was found with fentanyl in her system post-mortem. Senator Britt stressed how the grief and loss touching American families today requires immediate action. The Fend Off Fentanyl Act details efforts to restrict the flow of the drug in the U.S. by addressing the southern border and by attacking the criminal financing in foreign governments.

Substance misuse is estimated to be a factor in one- to two-thirds of cases of children with substantiated reports of abuse and neglect, and in two-thirds of cases of children in foster care. Children from families with substance misuse problems tend to come to the attention of child welfare agencies at a younger age than other children, are more likely than other children to be placed in out-of-home care and are likely to remain there longer. Addressing the issue of fentanyl is an important component of promoting child and family wellbeing and preventing child welfare system involvement.

By Bayley Levine, Policy Intern