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Arizona School Counselors Find Crossroads In Opioid, Budget Crises
The opioid epidemic in Arizona takes a toll on children throughout the state. In most cases, children witness their parents abuse drugs, and even some school age children have turned to drugs.
"They witness things at home that are very traumatic," Janine Menard said. Menard is the board chairwoman of the Arizona School Counselor Association, and she works as a counselor in Phoenix's Isaac School District.
She said she has noticed many changes within children affected by the epidemic.
"Students are coming to school late," Menard said. "They have excessive absences. Their academics suffer. Their social-emotional skills suffer.
Menard said that she and other counselors are inclined to help, and try to implement preventative programming within schools, but they face many obstacles.
“It’s getting increasingly difficult to really dig into these issues," Menard said, "when we have high ratios, and the funding isn’t there to kind of really support the full, comprehensive school counseling program.”
The ratio of schoolchildren to counselors in Arizona is 924 to 1. State legislators struck down a bill in May that would have reduced the ratio to 250 to 1.