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DeWine Aims To Expand Addiction Services, Increase Child Welfare Funding

In his first State of the State address Tuesday, Governor Mike DeWine said he’s creating a new public health fund to help address mental health and substance abuse.

He aims to expand the state’s crisis support services for kids and adults struggling with mental illness and addiction. One aspect would involve implementing emotional learning in schools to help kids make healthy decisions.

“I think emotional learning is meant to indicate emotion regulation,” explained Dan Lettenberger-Klein, Executive Director of Stella Maris which provides substance abuse treatment. He says teaching kids to understand their emotions will help with stress management and resiliency. 

“Teaching what emotional range is, having there be comfort with processing emotion, discussing emotion, understanding emotion’s role in the different actions and behavior we have,” he said. 

Lettenberger-Klein points out that emotional control can be a significant barrier for adults recovering from drug addiction.

DeWine also spoke about the opioid crisis and its effect on Ohio’s foster care system. Since 2013, Ohio has seen an increase in the number of children in foster care due to parental drug addiction.

DeWine says one of his goals is to expand the Ohio START program. It helps parents and pregnant women get into drug treatment and provides trauma counseling for kids, all with the goal of keeping families together.

START director Fawn Gadel says the program currently serves 32 Ohio counties.

“We hope to expand to serve more kids in the state of Ohio, and helping those families to remain safe and stable for the kids,” Gadel said. “We want to be able to expand START to as many counties as we can.”

DeWine also highlighted a need to increase funding for child welfare services in the state. The details of the governor’s proposals are expected to be in his budget due March 15.

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