START is a program designed for families with co-occurring substance abuse and child maltreatment. 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. A key element of the program is pairing a parent mentor with a children services caseworker1.

Ohio START is an effort of the Ohio Attorney General, PCSAO, and Casey Family Programs designed to bring additional evidence-informed interventions to rural and Appalachian counties hardest hit by the current opioid crisis. Ohio START utilizes early screening for parental substance use (within the first 30 days), family peer mentors, and intensive case management.

The overall goals of the project are:

  1. To ensure more children are able to remain safely in their home
  2. Increase rates of reunification for children placed in out-of-home care
  3. Reduce recurrence of child maltreatment

START was first implemented in Cuyahoga County, Ohio in 1997 and has since expanded to other locations, including Kentucky1 where the model has been deemed evidence-based2.

Previous research has shown that:

  • children were more likely to be safely maintained in their parent’s home3;
  • parents had almost twice the rates of sobriety than typical practice3

The Ohio State University College of Social Work and the Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs are conducting the evaluation for the Ohio START program.


1PCSAO. (2017, April). OhioSTART Executive Summary. Retrieved from PCSAO: http://www.pcsao.org/pdf/misc/OhioSTARTExecutiveSummary.pdf

2Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Teams (START. (n.d.). Retrieved from The California Evidence-based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare: http://www.cebc4cw.org/program/sobriety-treatment-and-recovery-teams/detailed

3Huebner, R. A., Willauer, T., & Posze, L. (2012). The Impact of Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Teams (START) on Family Outcomes. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 93(3), 196-203. doi:10.1606/1044-3894.4223