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Good News: START Team Wins Quality Commitment Award


i2i The Center for Integrative Health awarded the Quality Commitment Award to the START Program Buncombe DSS & Family Preservation Services of NC. Buncombe County HHS was able to share this good news with the Buncombe County Commissioners at their Dec 4th regular meeting.

With a focus on meeting people where they are for better outcomes, Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services and Family Preservation Services of NC (FPS) joined forces to implement a Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Team (START). The Buncombe County START program is based on the START Kentucky Model and considered a Promising Practice according to the California Evidence Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare. START is a child welfare program for families with co-occurring substance use and child maltreatment delivered in an integrated manner with local addiction treatment services. START pairs child protective services (CPS) workers trained in family engagement with FPS Family Mentors (Peer Support Specialists, who are in long term recovery and have had their own child protective services case as part of their life experience) and a FPS Coordinator 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 into START services to safely maintain child placement in the home when possible, and rapid access to intensive addiction/mental health assessment and treatment.

The goals of START are ensuring child safety, reducing entry into out-of-home care (keeping children in the home with the parent when safe and possible), and to achieve parental sobriety in time to meet ASFA permanency timeframes, improve parental capacity to care for children, improve parental engagement in essential life tasks, reduce repeat maltreatment and re-entry into out-of-home care, and expand behavioral health system quality of care and service capacity as needed to effectively serve families with parental substance use and child maltreatment issues.

15 families including 21 parents have moved into active recovery and graduated from the START program since the program began in the summer of 2017. Congratulations to the START team and to the families who have worked together towards these goals.