UK Social Work Nationally Recognized for Innovative Solution to Addiction Crisis

UK Social Work Nationally Recognized for Innovative Solution to Addiction Crisis

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 13, 2019) The College of Social Work (CoSW) at the University of Kentucky is being nationally recognized for an innovative program that addresses the complexities of addiction.

Addiction Policy Forum, a leading national nonprofit, recently honored the Kentucky Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Team (START) in its Kentucky Innovations to Address Addictions report. “The Kentucky Innovation Now report recognizes revolutionary programs, such as Kentucky START, that are transforming the response to addiction in Kentucky and offering solutions during a time of crisis,” Jessica Hulsey, founder of Addiction Policy Forum, said.

The soaring population of children entering the state’s care is further straining a system already overwhelmed. The CoSW, through its operation of START, hopes to lessen the Child Protective Services (CPS) burden by addressing the mental health needs of parents and children across the Commonwealth.

The program provides continued support by pairing a social worker with a family mentor. Together, these trained specialists help guide families through lasting recovery. The model includes a service delivery system that involves cross-system collaboration across child welfare, behavioral health and the courts, as well as frequent and intense coordinated service delivery in order to help parents provide a stable home.

“We are honored to be recognized by Addiction Policy Forum as an innovative solution to the addiction crisis in Kentucky,” Erin Smead, CoSW START program director, said. “START is committed to continuing to serve families throughout the state and be a model for other programs that seek to address addiction.”

According to START, women in the program have higher rates of sobriety than their non-START child welfare-involved counterparts (66% vs. 36%), and children in the program are 50% less likely to enter out-of-home placements than children from a matched comparison group.

“This award is a testament to the impact that START has had — and will continue to have — on Kentucky families and children,” Jay Miller, dean of CoSW, added. “What’s more, this recognition underscores our college’s commitment to addressing the opioid epidemic.”

The awards ceremony was held Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs in Louisville.