gov 1OWENSBORO, Ky. (4/3/2013) – Today, Gov. Steve Beshear came to Owensboro to present a $2.5 million grant to the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services. The funds will be allocated in $500,000 allotments over the next five years with 50 percent of funds for treatment being coordinated by River Valley Behavioral Health and manages through DBHDID; 15 percent of funds will be required to conduct an evaluation of the program through the University of Louisville; 27 percent to hire family mentors based in the Department for Community Based Services; and finally eight percent for support of in-state and out-of-state travel and administration.

For this grant, DCBS will implement a Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Team (START) program within Daviess County. "START" is a child welfare program that is a promising practice with evidence of effectiveness including one peer review outcome study and a treatment manual in progress, according to information provided at the meeting. The START Grant Overview states that the core implementation components of START will include the START team of three CPS workers and three Family Mentor (peer support specialist in sustained recovery); integrated treatment with behavioral health that includes quick access, retention, and intensive services; wrap-around services; and intensive CPS intervention. Achieving fidelity to the START model will be an essential element of the grant with testing of outcomes based on a matched control from other counties served by River Valley Behavioral Healthcare. Program evaluation will be completed by the University of Louisville.

START is designed to keep children safe in permanent homes and nurture their well-being, to promote sobriety, recovery, and parental capacity among substance abusing parents; and to build community capacity for recovery supports to address co-occurrence of child mal-treatment and substance abuse.

In his opening remarks to the crowd gathered at the Ronald Logsdon Community Center, Governor Beshear said, "Our goal with START is to attack the primary causes in the breakdown of the family structure."

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Beshear went on to say that in Kentucky, approximately 80 percent of children in the foster care system are there because of substance abuse and child abuse and neglect. The $2.5 million START grant will help 130 families in Owensboro/Daviess County who are dealing with these specific issues. Furthermore, according to a study quoted by Governor Beshear in his opening remarks, for every dollar spent in START, the state of Kentucky avoids $2 in out-of-home childcare and foster programs.

Gov. Beshear was not the only public official to speak Wednesday. Daviess County District Court Judge Lisa Jones also spoke in favor of the START program. "Foster care is always a valuable resource," she said. "However, sometimes removing children from their homes of origin can cause more harm than good. The START programs are evidence based and have been proven. Let's keep hope alive for children in Daviess County.

START was conceived in 2006, and has been implemented in four other counties in Kentucky, with Daviess County being the fifth. "There are only 17 START grants that have been awarded this year," according to RVBH Substance Abuse Director RonSonlyn Clark. "Daviess County is fortunate to be one of those recipients."

Alex Reid
SurfKY News
Photos provided by Alex Reid

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