FILE - Opioids OxyContin

(The Center Square) – Legislation sponsored by Pennsylvania state Rep. Clint Owlett, R-Wellsboro, that aims to help the children of parents struggling with opioid substance abuse passed unanimously in the state House of Representatives.

House Bill 253 would establish a task force to focus on the impact of the opioid epidemic on children of addicted parents. Objectives of the task force would include improving the safety and well-being of substance-exposed infants and young children adversely affected by opioid addicted parents.

The task force would identify strategies and make recommendations to prevent infants being exposed to substances, improve ways for pregnant women to overcome addiction, and improve the overall health and safety of children at risk of being neglected or abused due to a parent’s drug abuse.

“Newborns are suffering withdrawal from drugs they were exposed to in the womb,” Owlett said in a statement. "Fatalities and near-fatalities of infants and young children have been linked to parental substance abuse. Cases of child abuse and neglect linked to parental substance abuse are increasing, as are the number of children being removed from their homes and placed in protective custody because of their parents’ drug addiction."

The bill was sent to the Senate for consideration.