COLUMBUS – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recently spoke at the Inaugural Ohio Sobriety, Treatment, and Reducing Trauma (START) Summit that brought together Ohio START caseworkers, supervisors, administrators and family peer mentors involved in the pilot program.
Governor DeWine launched this innovative program in 2017, during his time as Ohio Attorney General, with a mission of helping entire families impacted by child maltreatment and parental substance abuse disorders.
“Ohio START has been life-changing to so many across the state,” Governor Mike DeWine said. “Families that were broken are healing because of the intensive support and expanded services Ohio START offers. As the pilot program expands, I anticipate hearing more success stories as they embrace a brighter future.”
“The feedback we’ve heard from our county children services agencies has been overwhelmingly positive,” Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Kim Hall said. “Right now, 32 counties are participating in Ohio START, and our goal is to expand that to 62 counties over the next two years.”
“We know that childhood experiences set the tone for health and success as adults,” Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services Director Lori Criss stated. “Programs such as Ohio START are what will put Ohio’s future leaders on a path of happiness and prosperity.”
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.
To date, the Ohio START initiative has served 725 people in all and 320 children. The Ohio START program is helping mothers struggling with substance use disorder give birth to drug-free babies, reuniting families, and helping parents gain independence and maintain sobriety.
In his budget, Governor DeWine has included $16 million to fund the expansion of evidence-based programs such as Ohio START.
To view an Ohio START dashboard, visit https://u.osu.edu/ohiostart/evaluation/dashboard/.