A dire shortage of foster parents

The opioid crisis is taking its toll on the children of those addicted to prescribed medications. The number of children in foster care with the state Department of Children and Families has jumped 38 percent from 2012 to 2017 statewide, and 19 percent in Barnstable County. More than 1,000 children are in foster care in Barnstable County.

That's why we so admire people like Stan and Eileen Elias of West Barnstable. Both in their 70s and semi-retired, the Eliases signed up to do foster care this year because they wanted to directly help children. Stan is a college professor and Eileen has spent her career working in government and policy to help vulnerable people.

“We have the inclination, ability and the desire to address a profound need,” Stan Elias said.

Social workers describe the need for more foster families as urgent and critical. Every day there are more requests for children who need a place to stay, said Michael Medeiros, a statewide foster family trainer.

“No one is breaking down our door to be foster parents,” Medeiros said. “The need is incredible. The opioid crisis has wreaked havoc on the foster care system.”

Foster parent recruiters will be at the Sandwich Farmers Market on the Village Green on Oct. 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

And from noon to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 19, the Department Children and Families will hold an information session at its Hyannis office, 500 Main St.

For more information, call 1-800-KIDS-508.

Let's do more to attract young families 

The median price of a three-bedroom house sold in Chatham in the past three months was more than $547,000, up from $529,000 five years ago.

So it should come as no surprise that the elementary school population in Chatham is down 12 percent (34 students) from last year.

Young families simply cannot afford to live in Chatham -- and many other Cape towns, especially on the Lower and Outer Cape where housing costs are the highest.

As a result of the problem, the Monomoy Regional School District, which comprises Harwich and Chatham, may soon face some tough choices. For example, the Chatham elementary school may serve only early learners with older elementary grades combined at the Harwich elementary school.

“The decline in elementary enrollment mirrors the ongoing demographic shift in this region of Cape Cod, with progressively fewer and fewer young families,” Superintendent Scott Carpenter told the board in an email. “It would behoove our towns to support initiatives that would encourage young families to live in and afford our towns.”

One way to do that is to support a model zoning bylaw that would make it easier to open accessory apartments in existing homes. We also need more multi-family homes and affordable housing projects.

“We do need to think more globally on how to attract a balanced community, about what sort of options are out there,” Carpenter said.

Bike, don't drive to the beach

Parking at bayside beaches in Brewster is no picnic, and it seems to get worse every summer. So we fully support a proposal to build a bike trail from Nickerson State Park off Route 6A to Cape Cod Bay east of Linnell Landing. 

The state Department of Conservation and Recreation will hold a public hearing on the proposal from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 18 at Brewster Town Hall. The state envisions a “multi-use pathway connector” extending from the Cape Cod Rail Trail bike path at Nickerson, across 45 wooded acres owned by the state north of Route 6A, all the way to the bay.

The wooded lot has remained undeveloped since the state purchased it in 1987 with the intention of creating a beach-side park. But then the state ran out of money and the property has remained largely untouched.

We urge the Cape legislative delegation to pursue state funding for this trail.