The OhioSTART Oct 2018 Interim Evaluation Report Reflects on Progress Made and Points to Future Directions

In early 2018, the OhioSTART intervention counties trained their employees on the new OhioSTART program and found partner agencies to implement the intervention. The purpose of the interim report is to evaluate OhioSTART thus far and confirm the project is in line with the long-term goals.

OhioSTART created a data use agreement with the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services to obtain SACWIS data and is in the process of analyzing that data. A plan for monitoring data fidelity is also in the development. The Needs Portal will be used for information management and data collection.

Front-line workers, supervisors, and administrators of OhioSTART were surveyed. The results of the survey showed there was an increase in collaboration between child welfare agencies and behavioral health agencies. The survey also found that family peer mentors bridged the gap between parents and child welfare agencies. When surveyed about OhioSTART training, some workers felt that they weren’t learning new information. OhioSTART parents were also surveyed. There was some difficulty getting the participants to respond, so it is necessary to continue to offer incentives.

The future for OhioSTART includes assessing the well-being of family peer mentors and the fidelity of interventions across sites, continue to encourage parents to participate in surveys, and monitor changes in child welfare outcomes – especially reunification.

You can find the full Oct 2018 report under “Publications” or click here.

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.

Introducing New Needs Portal Staff

I wanted to introduce two new team members who will be helping with the Needs Portal for Ohio START.  We hope that by adding staff we can provide you with better support during Year 2.5.

Christy Kranich, M.S.W. has been providing support to Ohio START in the background for the past year. She was the primary force in developing the website ( and the infographics for the interim evaluation reports.  For the past few months, she has been shadowing Eli Dellor at the trainings.  Christy will be conducting trainings and answering TA calls and emails.

Karla Shockley McCarthy, M.S.W. is a current Ph.D. student.  Karla was one of two students who developed the Opioid Family Support Toolkit (found here: She has also developed an infographic on using drug tests in child welfare (stay tuned for a copy) and has been supporting our Regional Partnership Grant with Fairfield and Pickaway counties. For the Needs Portal, she will be scheduling trainings, including those with your local providers, and answering TA calls and emails.

 Eli Dellor is still assisting with trainings and providing TA.  She is working on developing some “how to” videos to walk you through using the Portal. 

As a reminder, if you are already using the Needs Portal, you only need to add new tickets for new cases and update the VOCA services provided each month and we will pull the reports Fawn needs.  If you haven’t begun entering tickets, let us know if you need a refresher training.

 We also have a new email

 We look forward to continuing to work with all of you!