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Brown County first in nation to be certified for program designed to keep families together

Brown County first in nation to be certified for program designed to keep families together

Brown County Job and Family Services is the first local jurisdiction in the nation to be certified for quality implementation of a national model for families struggling with substance use and child maltreatment.

Children and Family Futures (CFF), the national purveyor of the START model in nine states and 54 Ohio counties, announced this week that Brown County in southern Ohio is the first in its national network to complete a certification review to become a Certified START Affiliate. “Certification is a noteworthy accomplishment acknowledging that the agency is serving Ohio START families with full fidelity to the model,” said CFF Program Director Tina Willauer. “This is important because studies have shown that achieving model fidelity leads to positive outcomes for the families served by START.”

Ohio Sobriety Treatment and Reducing Trauma (START) is an affiliate of the National Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Teams (START) Model, a specialized child welfare service delivery model that has been shown to improve outcomes for children and families affected by parental substance use and child maltreatment.

Led by a county children services agency, the program engages substance use and mental health treatment providers, the judicial system and other family-serving entities to promote collaboration and systems-level change. “Last year, nearly 3,400 Ohio children were removed from their home due at least in part to parental substance abuse,” Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) Director Matt Damschroder said. “Research has shown that mothers who participate in START achieve sobriety at nearly twice the rate of mothers treated without START and that children in families served by START were half as likely to be placed in children services custody.”

“Ohio START plays a vital role in stabilizing families harmed by parental drug use so that both children and parents can recover and find healing and hope,” added Lori Criss, Director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS). “We applaud our partners in Brown County for leading the nation in becoming the first local entity to earn national certification.”

Brown County JFS Director Sheri Tabor credited her staff, local collaboration and support from PCSAO with achieving the milestone. “Ohio START launched in southern Ohio in 2017 through the leadership of then-Attorney General, now-Governor Mike DeWine,” she said. “Evidence-based programs can often be too costly and burdensome for small rural counties like Brown to implement, but because of our staff, local collaboration and the fact that this model is led by children services and benefits from the expertise of those with lived experience, we have seen success.”

Ohio START is administered and led by the Public Children Services Association of Ohio with funding from ODJFS and the OhioMHAS.

Gov. DeWine’s office also issued a news release about Brown County’s accomplishment.