NBC News Covers START in Fairfield County

“START targets the most at-risk kids in the county.”

“Fairfield County, Ohio’s Protective Workers used to almost automatically remove kids from the home if the parents were using drugs, but with 8 out of 10 cases of abuse and neglect, here, related to drugs (mainly opioids), and a severe shortage of foster care options, CPS workers in Ohio are trying a new approach to keep families together.” –NBC News

 (Click image to watch news story.)

image of a family with text "Program to Preserve Families in Opioid Ravaged Ohio"

People interviewed include:

  • Brittaney Pickerel – OhioSTART participant
  • Kitty Matson – Peer Supporter
  • Kristi Burre – Fairfield County Director of Child Protective Services

What Do Staff Think of OhioSTART?

During spring and summer 2018, the evaluation team conducted 16 interviews with various OhioSTART staff representing 6 counties, in order to assess perceptions of the program and guide further implementation.  Overall, the interviews reveal staff have positive perceptions of the OhioSTART model. While we are currently drafting a full report, we wanted to highlight some preliminary findings.

Bar Chart showing number and type of interview participants: 1 behavioral health provider, 4 child welfare caseworkers, 5 peer mentors, and 6 child welfare administrators.

OhioSTART is good for the child welfare system

  1. The model is influencing the child welfare system via an intensive, positive, and supportive approach to working with families experiencing substance use disorders and child welfare involvement.

“I think that it’s motivating for caseworkers to see that parents, some of which were involved with our agency, do recover. They’re able to get their children back.”

–Child Welfare Administrator

  1. Ohio START has resulted in increased and rapid communication and coordination of families’ services between child welfare staff and behavioral health providers.

“We are just having a lot more open communication with [AOD providers] than in the past and it is very helpful.”   

–Child Welfare Administrator

Peer Mentors are key to the success of the program

Peer Mentors are not only providing intensive and supportive services and modeling recovery for parents, but they are also a resource with experience of substance use disorders and a source of hope for child welfare staff.

“Having people who have walked that path (child welfare and substance disorder) for themselves as a model that it is possible to recover. It is possible to get your kids back. It is possible to have a healthy productive family life. It is possible. Recovery is possible and life is possible after. It’s not the end.”

–Behavioral Health Provider

Improvement can be made in services and implementation

  1. Interviewees also report additional service needs. For example, there is a reported shortage of inpatient behavioral health care for women, not enough housing in some communities and not enough child trauma services in some communities.
  2. Some interviewees note more of a planning period, as well as increased clarity on implementation and funding at the outset would have been helpful.
  3. Interviewees would like increased flexibility on when families can be included in OhioSTART.

Click here for a 2-page summary with more inspiring and helpful quotes.

Innovative Ideas: Family Resources & Support

START workers in Brown County are providing new and engaging ways for clients to build a positive, supportive community and to access helpful, every day information:

  1. Our START workers and clients are participating in the 3rd Annual Recovery Run in September. The run is sponsored by the Brown County Board of Mental Health & Addiction Services.
  2. Workers have created a Pinterest Board highlighting low-cost activities for children, menu planning, family activities, and parenting tips. We provide a letter to clients to let them know about the board. We have 130 followers! Click the image to go to Pinterest to see the full Board which contains additional sections.

A screenshot of Brown County's OhioSTART Pinterest Board with categories of links for Chores and Household Maintentance; Self Care Tips and Articles; Quote; and Activities and Craft Ideas. 

  1. START workers are starting a clothing program to assist in obtaining appropriate clothing for court and job interviews. This is a new resource in our county!
  2. START Workers are in the first phases of planning a mentoring program for parents in the community.
  3. We also create a START binder that is specialized for each member. This is meant to be a resource and a memory book. It includes sections such as, “My Journey,” Scheduling, Contact Information, Legal, Goal Setting, Recovery/Treatment Information, Self, Health, Family Finance, Education, Resources, and Crime Victim Information. Click here for an outline of contents. Click here for the cover pages that we use for each section.

OhioSTART Success: News from Brown County

Good Morning! Brown County could not be more thrilled about the direction our OhioSTART program is headed. We have had a great response from families who are choosing to actively engage with START services. As of early May 2018:Image with information: 3 of 4 families are highly engaged in services. 3 of 4 entered treatment within 5 days of meeting their START worker. Families have made use of the following 4 types of treatment: 1) 3-day detox; 2) Crisis Center; 3) Inpatient Treatment; and 4) Outpatient Treatment.

In addition to this amazing impact on families, our workers are committed to upgrading their skills:

  • Both our caseworker and family peer mentors have committed to obtaining their Chemical Dependency Counseling Assistant credential.
  • Our caseworker is obtaining the Prevention Now! Certification through SAMHSA and will be implementing prevention into case planning.