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Launch of Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Teams Pilot Program in Putnam County

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ (DHHR) Office of Drug Control Policy and Bureau for Social Services recently launched the Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Teams (START) pilot program in Putnam County. START aims to help parents achieve recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) and keep children in their home when safe or to reunify the family when safety factors have been remediated.

The target population for the child welfare-based intervention is families with children ages 0-5 with child protective services involvement due to substance use. The program includes intense and coordinated service delivery between child welfare and SUD/mental health treatment providers. In addition, family mentors, people in long-term recovery from an SUD, are assigned to each family to support them on their journey.

“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.”

Additional START pilot programs remain 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.”

To learn more about the START model, visit For more information on West Virginia programs and initiatives addressing the substance use disorder epidemic, visit ​