December 2022


Director's Corner

Happy Holidays! Hoping your holiday season is filled with love and joy!

Ohio START believes in family, love and redemption. Together we have served over 1,000 families. We continue to work as a team, supporting and holding each other accountable.

"Nothing is impossible. The word itself says 'I'm possible!'"

- Fawn

Brown County first in nation to be certified for program designed to keep families together

Brown County Job and Family Services is the first local jurisdiction in the nation to be certified for quality implementation of a national model for families struggling with substance use and child maltreatment. Read more at Congratulations to Brown County!

From the Field: County Highlights


Tuscarawas County recently closed one case!


Medina County closed two cases in November!


Summit County successfully closed several cases!

Summit County Celebration

Congratulations to Aimee from SCCS for graduating from Ohio START!

“It was like a miracle when I found out what this program was all about”- Aimee.

From Ohio START Client to START Caseworker: Aimee Shares Her Story


"If somebody would have told me several years ago where I’d be today, I would have never believed them.

The memory of Children Services knocking at my door is something one never forgets. It was a hot day in early summer; any sunlight the day offered was blocked by the closed curtains that I shamefully hid myself and my children behind.

Not wanting to face who was on the other side, afraid of exposing my ugly secret, in fear of being judged and losing the only thing that I had left to live for, my children, a force greater than myself pushed me to turn the doorknob and face the consequences.

Standing there were two women, (to this day refer to as my living angels), sent to answer my prayers; to help me when I could not help myself; to take care of my children, when I could not take care of them myself; to love me when I could not love myself.

They began to explain to me a new program called START. They described how they would assist me in getting the substance abuse treatment that I desperately needed. They assured me that if I followed treatment plan recommendations, I would not have to lose my children. I didn’t believe them, but I was in no position to object to their plans. It was clear that my choices were not working.

I can’t say that I did everything right. I’m quite convinced that I was the longest START client in the history of the START program. When everyone else in the world had given up on me, my caseworker, family peer mentor and children services supervisor kept pushing me to get myself back up, dust myself off and try again. They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I was beyond difficult to deal with (from screaming at treatment providers, telling them they were uneducated and worthless, to escaping out back doors, running through yards to flee my caseworker and family peer mentor who were trying to get me into treatment, to verbally assaulting my caseworker, Dana Berry while I demanded I get my nails done before going to inpatient treatment.) This is a stark reminder that the drug addicted person is vastly different from the clean and sober person that I am today. I don’t recognize that person, but I cannot forget that person. My memory serves as a reminder that I am dealing with an ugly disease, not an ugly human. With patience and persistence, the disease can be destroyed, and a beautiful person can arise out of the ashes like a phoenix. Beyond that, a family unit can survive a catastrophe, reduce the likelihood of severe trauma, and be rebuilt stronger, together.

This entire journey has been everything from moments of excruciating heartaches to moments of incredible joy and fulfillment. From feeling like I can’t go on, to feeling like there’s a reason I am alive.

I began working at Ashtabula County Children Services as a Family Peer Mentor in May of this year. I was able to work beside the women that saved my life, caseworker, Dana Berry and Supervisor Ann Lynch. They were able to see firsthand the woman they helped to create. I was in disbelief when I was asked to submit my resume for a START caseworker opening. When they hired me, it was the first time in years that I felt like I had overcome my past. It was a realization that I was considered a valuable contribution to society. They didn’t see me as my past, an addict.

There is not a day that I wake up that I am not deeply grateful for the life I get to live. I have somehow been able to turn the most painful experience of my life into a purpose. I get to be that person on the other side of the door, to guide, to support, to advocate for, to believe in. I get to pay it forward. And if that is not the most complete full circle blessing, I don’t know what is."

- Aimee Rich, Ashtabula County Children Services Ohio START Caseworker

Ohio START wants to share more success stories! Submit them here.

Employee Spotlight

Congratulations to Adam Gonzales, family peer mentor from the Seneca County START (Sobriety, Treatment, and Reducing Trauma) team, for being awarded at the Celebrate Youth Luncheon hosted by Tiffin Rotary and Seneca County Family & Children First Council!

"Adam Gonzales is passionate about supporting families in recovery in his role as Seneca County START's family peer mentor. He is a kind, compassionate, respectful and supportive role model with a servant's heart. He offers listening ears, breaks down barriers and helps the team see through the eyes of families." Thank you Adam for everything you do!

Have a staff member you want to highlight? Submit the survey here.

Resources and Events

Attend the Recovery Is Beautiful Holiday Gathering

The Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities, with support from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, will be hosting a Recovery Is Beautiful Holiday Gathering on Dec. 14, 2022, from 10 AM - 3 PM at the Dwell in Columbus, OH. The event will include motivational speakers, recovery stories, activities, and more. Register for the event here.

Needs Portal Update

The Needs Portal has implemented the Primary Parent checkbox. In order for it to be used in the quarterly timeline report, caseworkers will need to be sure to select who the primary parent is on a case or there will not be a primary parent identified for the cases. If it is easier to send Needs Portal staff a list of cases and indicate who the primary parent is, they can check that off for the correct parent. Please email for questions.

Attend Ohio START Coaching Calls

Coaching calls will continue to be held quarterly and may be attended by any Ohio START staff. They will be on the same date and time, the first and second Thursday of the month, from 9 a.m.-10 a.m. The same content will be covered at each session, so you only need attend one of the days. 

Join a Sober Active Community

The Phoenix’s mission is to build a sober active community that fuels resilience and harnesses the transformational power of connection so that together we

rise, recover, and live. Find more information on their website.

Information about Kratom

Visit the training calendar below to register

Understanding the Culture of Poverty

Jan. 1 from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Introduction to Motivational Interviewing

Jan. 13 from 9 a.m. - 4:15 p.m. .

Introduction to START for New Staff

Jan. 19 from 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Motivational Interviewing for Supervisors: Professional Learning Community (PLC)

Jan. 19 from 9 a.m. - 10 a.m.

Ohio START Foundations #3 - Behavioral Health Treatment Provider Strategies

Jan. 25 from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Nurturing Parenting

Jan. 19 from 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Training Calendar
Ohio START is a program of PCSAO and an affiliate of the National START Model
Our Mission: We approach Substance Use Disorders with compassion, understanding and hope for recovery. We work as a team, supporting and holding each other accountable. We believe in family, love, equity, and redemption.
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