College of Social Work awarded $3 million to address substance abuse in Ohio

Grant to support regional partnerships in Fairfield and Pickaway counties

By: Frankie Jones-Harris

Published on October 09, 2017

The Ohio State University College of Social Work has received a $3 million grant to address substance abuse problems in Ohio – one of the largest grants ever awarded in the college’s 100-year history.

The grant, funded by the Children’s Bureau of the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will support regional partnership intervention activities in Fairfield and Pickaway counties to reduce child abuse and neglect among families with substance use problems. For Pickaway County, 100 percent of substance-involved families were due to opioid (including heroin) misuse, while 58 percent of all substance-involved cases in Fairfield County involved opioids.

Three College of Social Work faculty secured the grant: Bridget Freisthler, Katie Maguire-Jack, and Susan Yoon.

Recipients Freisthler, Yoon and Maguire-Jack

As part of the grant, Freisthler, Maguire-Jack and Yoon, along with public child welfare administrators, have selected three strategies for the Enhancing Permanency in Children and Families (EPIC) program. The evidence-based or evidence-informed strategies to be included are: (1) family drug treatment court and medication-assisted treatment; (2) peer recovery supporters; and (3) parenting and support for kinship providers. These interventions are intended to holistically provide supports to families involved in the child welfare system due to substance abuse in order to get parents into treatment and increase permanency and well-being for children.

In addition to the College of Social Work, key partners of the project include Fairfield County Job and Family Services (also called Fairfield County Children Services), Pickaway County Job and Family Services (also called Pickaway County Children Services), Pickaway County Juvenile Court and Prosecutor’s Office, Fairfield County Juvenile Court, Berger Health System, OhioGuidestone and Integrated Services.

“We are very excited about this collaborative opportunity and the funding to implement evidence-based interventions for families affected by opioid use in the child welfare system,” said Freisthler, College of Social Work project lead. “The effects of the opioid crisis on children whose parents are misusing or abusing substances have often been overlooked as solutions have primarily focused on reducing overdose deaths. This award will provide much-needed financial support for services for these children and families.”

EPIC will involve collaboration with a wide range of family-serving agencies, including, child welfare agencies, substance abuse treatment providers, health and mental health agencies, courts, schools, law enforcement, and other service organizations. These professionals will be cross-trained in order to provide better services across systems that interact with these families. This means that child welfare workers will become more knowledgeable and trauma-informed about substance use issues, the peer recovery supporters will understand the child welfare system and processes, the kinship caregiver supporters will understand both the child welfare system and substance use disorders, and the family drug court coordinators and medication assistance treatment providers will have a thorough
understanding of child welfare.

“Pickaway County is very excited to partner with Fairfield County and Ohio State with EPIC,” said Joy Ewing, director of Pickaway County Job and Family Services. “A significant portion of our child welfare caseload involves substance abuse and this grant will provide much needed resources for those families affected by substance abuse.”

Kristi Burre, deputy director of Protective Services at Fairfield County Job and Family Services, added “Children traumatized as a result of their parents’ drug abuse are often the invisible victims of the opioid epidemic. It has had a critical impact on our local protective services and our ability to service and manage co-occurring substance abuse and maltreatment concerns with Fairfield County families.”

The College of Social Work has developed a long-standing and deeply ingrained culture of applied research and scholarship that permeates all aspects of its programs, informs its community service and engagement, and contributes to the greater good of the profession, society and the world. This regional partnership opportunity is reflective of its commitment to working with communities around developing solutions for complex problems.

For more information about the grant or for interviews, contact:

  • Ohio State College of Social Work: Frankie Jones-Harris, Communications Director, at 614-330-2206 or jones-harris.1@osu.edu.
    • Pickaway County Job and Family Services Contact: Nick Tatman, Children Services Administrator, nicholas.tatman@jfs.ohio.gov.
    • Fairfield County Job and Family Services Contact: Kristi Burre, Deputy Director for Protective Services, Kristi.Burre@jfs.ohio.gov.

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    Frankie Jones-Harris
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