The county is experiencing an increase in the number of children served by emergency shelters, independent living programs and group homes. The spike has increased costs to care for the children by more than $250,000 in the last year. And a large component of that growth can be attributed to caretakers and parents who abuse alcohol and drugs.

That's according to Lynne Rainey, the director of the county's Children and Youth Social Services Agency. She discussed the growing numbers Wednesday at the Bucks County Commissioners meeting, explaining why the budget line item for the youth shelters, group homes and independent living programs has grown to about $1 million. The county pays about $120,000 towards those costs while the state and federal government shoulder the rest.

During the last fiscal year, those services cared for 48 children for a total of 3,400 service days while the county expects that number to increase to 68 kids for a total 6,300 service days before the current fiscal year ends in July, Rainey said.

"It's very common that school age children, if they don't go to a relative who can care for them, they'll go to short term placement," Rainey told The Inquirer in an interview.