Program to help families affected by substance use disorder launched in Putnam County

Local News

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Office of Drug Control Policy and Bureau for Social Services has launched a pilot program for the Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Teams (START) in Putnam County.

Officials say the goal of the START program is to help parents recover from substance abuse disorder to keep their children in their home or reunite families when it is safe to do so. The target group for the child welfare-based intervention program is families with children ages five or younger where child protective services has gotten involved due to substance use.

According to the WV DHHR, the program includes “intense and coordinated” service delivery between child welfare and substance use disorder and/or mental health treatment providers. Familly mentors, who are in long-term recovery from substance use disorder, are also assigned to help each family.

“We are pleased to launch this innovative pilot program in Putnam County with the help of DHHR’s Bureau for Social Services, Prestera Center and other community partners,” said Dr. Matthew Christiansen, Director of DHHR’s Office of Drug Control Policy. “With a goal to keep families together and reduce the SUD burden on the foster care system, we are hopeful this model can be replicated across West Virginia to improve outcomes and opportunities for our families.”

Officials say START pilot programs are still in the planning phases and are expected to launch in Fayette, Kanawha, Mercer, and Raleigh counties by the end of 2021.

“We are pleased to be a part of this innovative initiative which will support ongoing efforts to reduce the number of children in out-of-home placements, a top priority for the Department,” said Jeffrey Pack, Commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Social Services. “I look forward to seeing the impact the START pilot program will make in Putnam County and other areas as it is expanded.”

For more information on START programs, visit For more information on West Virginia programs and initiatives regarding the substance use disorder epidemic, visit

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