In May 2002, Moffat County Social Services had 25 children in out-of-home placement. Methamphetamine use did not play a role in any of those cases.
But in May of this year, 44 children were in out-of-home placement, 23 of the cases involved meth use by parents or by children.
"It is really hard to be a parent anyway," said Beverly Counts, Moffat County Social Services supervisor of casework staff. "When you add that drug to it, it makes it really difficult."
Counts said compared with marijuana or alcohol, meth creates more problems when parents use it.
"It dramatically affects their ability to parent," she said.
Meth users are either high and manic or sleeping, she said. "Neither one of those is productive to take care of children."
Counts presented the Moffat County commissioners with a report Tuesday showing some of the effects meth use has on children.
The report shows that meth plays a role in more than 50 percent of the out-of-home placements in Moffat County. In 2003, meth played a role in 14 percent of out-of-home placements.
Commissioners asked Social Services a few months ago to compile numbers on the effects of meth on Moffat County's children.
Commissioner Darryl Steele said commissioners kept hearing the meth problem in Northwest Colorado was growing but wanted some concrete numbers to show just how bad it was.
Commissioner Saed Tayyara said he was shocked that meth played a part in so many children being removed from their homes.
"It is very scary," Tayyara said. "It is not only here in Moffat County, it is in Rio Blanco, Routt County, everywhere."
Commissioner Tom Gray pointed out that meth is clearly hurting the county financially by increasing the number of children who have to be removed from their home.
Steele said meth use increases the workload for a variety of county departments, not just Social Services.
Moffat County did not contribute to Communities Overcoming Meth Abuse, COMA, this year, but Steele said in light of the numbers he saw Tuesday, the county might want to contribute in the future.
Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or firstname.lastname@example.org.