Head Start and the Opioid Crisis: Creating a Network of Care
Berta Velilla: I think we have realized that this is an issue that no individual agency can deal with alone.
Robin Gersten: We're seeing a lot more children removed from the home. We're seeing children that are raised by grandparents, or aunts, or uncles, whose families go into rehab.
Berta: It is an issue that is taxing so many of our systems. Schools, law enforcement, children's protective services, public health, mental health, Head Start. And if we all come together and share in our expertise and bring a little piece and strengthen our collaboration, that's the only way that we're going to make a difference and we're gonna get somewhere.
Margie Chastain: So, we are always trying to build connections with other agencies in the community because we understand that we're not experts in everything, and we can't provide everything that a family might need.
Rosemarie Halt: We have joined what in this area is called the Regional Overdose Prevention Coalition because we know that those resources of the people there can help our clients.
Julie Herrmann: We collaborate regularly with local school districts, with the Board of Developmental Disabilities. We participate regularly on what's called Joining Forces for Children. It's a collective impact initiative run by Cincinnati Children's Hospital. So, that collaboration is absolutely essential in terms of becoming trauma-informed, remaining trauma-informed, and providing the best services possible for the community.
Robin: We work with outside mental health agencies. We refer to neurologists, psychiatrists, developmental pediatricians. We work really closely with the public schools.
Rosemarie: We've also gotten asked by government agencies to be part of their panels. And so, one thing has led to another, in that you know joining one organization just connected it to so many other people working hard and around substance use disorders, and particularly the opioid epidemic.
Linda Botelho: We know that families are out there struggling in isolation, as does the individual with the substance use disorder. And we know that in order for families to function, to provide self-care and to care for their other family members—many times there are other children—they need to know the resources that are available in the community.
Toscha Blalock: You know, it's so complex. Like, what's out in the community is so complicated. So, we try to make sure that they have those connections.
Pauline Carlson: It makes it much more comprehensive. That we couldn't do on our own. And we have amazing community partners, so that's been really helpful.
Rosemarie: We know more people to call and to work with. So again, it's really that networking that I think has been critical for part of our success in being able to help our families.
Berta: It's all about, you know, helping the kids and the families that are part of our community.Close
Head Start programs collaborate with city and state agencies, doctors, schools, and others to create a large network of resources for families. Through their community partnerships, Head Start programs can ensure families receive the support they need.