START program gains national attention from the Administration for Children and Families

The START program participated in a round-table discussion with the Administration for Children and Families.
START Site Visit

Share news:

COVINGTON, Ky.The Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Teams (START) in the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) and supported by the UK College of Social Work (CoSW), had the opportunity to meet with members of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the Kenton County DCBS this summer.

Jeff Hild, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, and members of his staff, as well as START Director John Lewis, START Clinical Director Kathy Kleier-Coates, and START Assistant Director Felicita Quinones were in attendance. START family mentors and families impacted by START were also involved in the round-table discussion with ACF, as ACF is learning from how START utilizes prevention services and Title-IV-E federal funding to prevent child removal.

START pairs child protective services (CPS) workers trained in family engagement with family mentors (peer support employees in long-term recovery) using a system-of-care and team decision-making approach with families, treatment providers and the courts.

Essential elements of the model include quick entry to START services to safely maintain child placement in the home when possible and rapid access to intensive addiction/mental health assessment and treatment. 

“Empowering families and giving them autonomy while connecting them with the resources they need is our biggest priority at START,” Lewis said. “The phrase ‘no decision about me without me’ is something we continue to utilize in our program.”

Recently, START achieved certification as local START affiliates by the National Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Teams Training and Technical Assistance Program at Children and Family Futures.  

This prestigious designation, which marks a three-year certification period, acknowledges the programs’ dedication to collaborative and early intervention approaches for families at higher risk of child abuse and neglect due to parental substance misuse.

This achievement of being certified as official START providers is a testament to Kentucky’s role as a pioneer in the START model’s implementation and serves as a model for the Nation. ACF staff members were able to learn more about the program, as well as hear a testimony from a mother who stated that START changed her life.

“START gave me a chance and never gave up on me,” the START participant said. “START was there for me and reminded me that I am not alone. Today, I have my life back.  I am proud of me today.”

The proof is also in the numbers with START, as Women in START have higher rates of sobriety than their non-START child welfare-involved counterparts (66 percent vs. 36 percent). Children in START are 50 percent less likely to enter out-of-home placements than children from a matched comparison group.

As START continues to be an impactful program across Kentucky and the United States, the program continues to stick to its values and hopes to help more families struggling with substance misuse. For more information about START, please visit the START website.

For over 85 years, the College of Social Work (CoSW) at the University of Kentucky has been a leader in education. Our mission is clear: Through rigorous research, excellence in instruction, and steadfast service, the CoSW works to improve the human condition. Always, in all ways.

As the state’s flagship university, our mission is actualized through our deeds. Our faculty are renowned academicians dedicated to fostering the development of high-quality practitioners and researchers. As a college, we promote community and individual well-being through translational research and scholarship, exemplary teaching, and vital community engagement. We are committed to the people and social institutions throughout Kentucky, the nation, and the world.