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Ohio START (Sobriety, Treatment, and Reducing Trauma) is an intervention program that provides specialized victim services, such as intensive trauma counseling, to children who have suffered victimization with substance abuse of a parent being the primary risk factor. The program also assists parents of children referred to the program with their path to recovery from addiction.

Created through the office of former Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, and now supported by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Ohio START requires the partnering of county Public Children Services Agencies (PCSAs), behavioral health providers, and juvenile/family courts. A key element of this program is family peer mentors who are paired with a child welfare caseworker to provide intensive case management services. Ohio START emphasizes a wraparound approach for at-risk parents that includes frequent home visits and mentorship from people who have lived experience with recovery and the child protection system. The Ohio departments of Job and Family Services and of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Casey Family Programs, UnitedHealthcare Community Plans of Ohio, Anthem Inc., HealthPath Foundation of Ohio and PhRMA are joining with the Governor in investing in promising strategies for Ohio START.

This project creates an opportunity for a new best practice model designed to lead to better outcomes for children and families impacted by opiates and other drugs. The overall goal of this program is to stabilize families harmed by parental drug use so that both children and their parents can recover and move forward with abuse-free and addiction-free lives. Ohio START integrates community partners to ensure the seamless provision of wraparound services.

Sobriety, Treatment and Recovery Teams (START) began operation in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) in 1997. START was adapted by Kentucky in 2006. The START program in Kentucky resulted in approximately half as many children returning to foster care due to parental addiction. Parents involved in the Kentucky program were also found to have twice the sobriety rate. Kentucky START has been rated as “Promising Research Evidence” on the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare. The effectiveness of the Ohio START pilot project will be studied by partners at The Ohio State University’s College of Social Work and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University. Each school has generously agreed to evaluate the Ohio START program over the two-and-a-half-year grant period.

The program is primarily funded through a Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and a State Opioid Response (SOR) grant from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, which are shared among the counties over two and a half years. These grant funds are used to help county child welfare agencies identify children who have been victimized due to parental drug use and provide them with specialized treatment for any resulting behavioral or emotional trauma. The grant also funds victim services for parents with underlying victimization that may be contributing to their addiction. Casey Family Programs, which partnered with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to develop the Ohio START program, is providing additional funds for the pilot program. UnitedHealthcare, PhRMA and HealthPath Foundation of Ohio have also provided grants to support the program. All grants are administered by PCSAO. In addition, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OMHAS) has dedicated CURES funding through the Institute for Human Services to support the training of and technical assistance for START PCSAs and their community partners.

The 32 counties in Ohio covered by the grant include Ashtabula, Athens, Brown, Butler, Carroll, Clinton, Delaware, Erie, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Gallia, Hardin, Hamilton, Highland, Hocking, Jackson, Lorain, Lawrence, Meigs, Mercer, Morrow, Ottawa, Pickaway, Richland, Ross, Seneca, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Warren, and Vinton.




Ohio START in the News