(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Director Mark Hurst, MD, today announced that funding from their offices will help the Ohio Sobriety, Treatment, and Reducing Trauma (START) Program expand to 17 new counties.
The 17-county expansion, funded by a new $3 million federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant from the Attorney General’s Office and a federal State Opioid Response grant awarded by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, adds to the original Ohio START Pilot program bringing the total number of counties served by Ohio START to 34. New Ohio START counties include Ashtabula, Butler, Carroll, Delaware, Erie, Hardin, Lorain, Mercer, Morrow, Muskingum, Ottawa, Richland, Seneca, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, and Washington. The program is administered though the Public Children Services Association of Ohio.
“The focused, individualized support families in the Ohio START program receive can truly make a difference, and I am pleased that even more counties will start offering this program,” said Attorney General DeWine. “The dedication of the case workers, family peer mentors, and others has supported parents struggling with addiction and helped keep families together. I look forward to following the success of more families as the Ohio START model is implemented in more communities across the state.”
“Investing in prevention and addressing the impacts of addiction on families, is an important step on our road to defeating the opioid epidemic in Ohio. The Ohio START program provides families struggling with addiction and mental illness an opportunity to remain in-tact, and to move forward in a way that is healthy and recovery-focused,” said Director Hurst. “The use of peers in this model is especially important, and is something that echoes the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services’ commitment to expanding access to peer services across the state.”
Ohio START brings together children’s services, juvenile courts, and behavioral health treatment providers to support families struggling with co-occurring child maltreatment and substance abuse. In addition, family peer mentorship is a critical part of the program. The mentors are individuals who have personal experience with addiction, who have achieved sustained recovery, and who have had prior engagement with the child welfare system as a child or a parent. The accountability and support they provide helps create a community collaboration aimed at helping families succeed.
“Ohio START is an innovative children services-led program that has given our pilot agencies the ability to partner with other local agencies and connect with the families we serve in a meaningful way allowing the family to heal from their trauma and provide safe and stable homes for their children,” said Fawn Gadel, Director of Ohio START. “This year, we are very excited to double the number of counties participating in the pilot, so we can reach twice as many families and children.”
Originally funded by a 2017 VOCA grant awarded by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Ohio START is also supported by Casey Family Programs; the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, through a federal 21st Century Cures grant and the State Opioid Response grant; United Healthcare Community Plan of Ohio; PhRMA, and the HealthPath Foundation of Ohio.
The Ohio State University College of Social Work and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University are donating their time and resources to conduct a full evaluation of the pilot, which will be available at the pilot’s conclusion.
Original pilot counties include Athens, Brown, Clinton, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Gallia, Hamilton, Highland, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Pickaway, Ross, Vinton, and Warren.