Ohio START (Sobriety, Treatment, and Reducing Trauma) is an intervention program that will provide specialized victim services, such as intensive trauma counseling, to children who have suffered victimization with substance abuse by a parent being the primary risk factor. The program will also assist parents of children referred to the program with their path to recovery from addiction (http://www.pcsao.org/programs/ohio-start).

Researchers from the College of Social Work at The Ohio State University and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University are conducting a process and outcome evaluation of the OhioSTART program.

Ohio’s child protection system has been significantly impacted by the opioid epidemic:

  • In 2015, Ohio was among the top three states for the highest number of opioid deaths, synthetic opioid deaths, and heroin deaths1.
  • Children of parents who use substances are at a much greater risk for child abuse and neglect2,3.
  • Since 2010, when the opioid epidemic was just taking root, there has been an increase of 11% more children taken into state custody4.
  • Children are staying in care 17% longer with the increase attributed to high rates of relapse associated with addiction4.
  • Ohio’s southern rural counties report the highest rates of overdose per the population5.
  • Babies born in Ohio’s Appalachia are almost twice as likely as the overage Ohio newborn to be diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome6.

The office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine created the program to serve families with co-occurring substance abuse and child maltreatment. OhioSTART includes the partnering of county Public Children Services Agencies (PCSAs), behavioral health providers, juvenile/family courts, parent mentors, and other key stakeholders.

Click here for more about the evaluation or here for more about START in general.

Funding for OhioSTART comes from the Office of Victims of Crime (VOCA) and Casey Family Programs and is administered by the Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO). Please visit the PCSAO website for more information about the OhioSTART program.

For a downloadable/printable summary:  Research Brief: Evaluating Ohio Start (April 2017)


1Ingraham, C. (2016, December 13). Where opiates killed the most people in 2015. Retrieved from Washington Post Wonkblog: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/12/13/where-opiates-killed-the-most-people-in-2015/?utm_term=.8adda8e931fa
2Staton-Tindall, M., Sprang, G., Clark, J., Walker, R., & Craig, C. D. (2013). Caregiver substance use and child outcomes: A systematic review. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 13(1), 6-31
3Stith, S. M., Liu, T., Davies, L. C., Boykin, E. L., Alder, M. C., Harris, J. M., … & Dees, J. E. M. E. G. (2009). Risk factors in child maltreatment: A meta-analytic review of the literature. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 14(1), 13-29
4PCSAO. (2017). The Opioid Epidemic’s Impact on Children Services in Ohio. Retrieved from: http://www.pcsao.org/pdf/advocacy/OpiateBriefingSlides.pdf
52016 Ohio Drug Overdose Data: General Findings. (2017). Retrieved from Ohio Department of Health:  https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/wcm/connect/gov/5deb684e-4667-4836-862b-cb5eb59acbd3/2017_OhioDrugOverdoseReport.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CONVERT_TO=url&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_M1HGGIK0N0JO00QO9DDDDM3000-5deb684e-4667-4836-862b-cb5eb59acbd3-moxPbu6

6Ohio’s Appalachian Children at a Crossroads: A Roadmap for Action. (2016). Retrieved from Children’s Defense Fund of Ohio: https://www.childrensdefense.org/cdfoh/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2018/07/OH-appalachian-children-crossroads.pdf