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Title: In a State of Recovery: A Study of Ohio’s Response to the Opioid Crisis Through the Lens of Education, Child Welfare, and Data Policies
Authors: Hillenbrand, Julia
Advisors: Nelson, Timothy
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Certificate Program: Program in Technology & Society, Technology Track
Class Year: 2020
Abstract: In 2017, nearly 50,000 opioid-related drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States. That same year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis as a public health emergency. Since the epidemic was declared a crisis in 2017, Ohio has consistently had one of the highest overdose death rates of any state in the country. The severity of the crisis has apparent impacts on children in the state, and child welfare services have been flooded with an unprecedented increase in cases in the past ten years. Since 2010, there has been a 19 percent increase in the number of children removed from parental care, and drug use is a factor in about 30 percent of foster placements. While existing literature has observed the impacts of opioid use on child and family welfare, there are few assessments of emerging policy in this area. This paper aims to inform policy debate through a study of Ohio’s interventions on behalf of children and families impacted by the opioid crisis. To make these judgements I relied on a combination of literature review, policy evaluation, and 12 interviews conducted for this project. Examined policy was bucketed into three main types of interventions: education policy, family/child policy, and data management policy. After analyzing each policy area, I conclude that, while Ohio has implemented some effective policy responses, a lack of coordinated legislation has created a fragmented dispersion of services that are uneven across the state and lacking appropriate leadership. In education, the primary policy support intended to help students facing trauma at home is an addendum to existing policy frameworks, not mandated across the state, and not consistently applied in schools. In family policy, Ohio has rolled out three impressive solutions which provide wraparound services to families in need, but varying levels of state support and county breadth of these policies results in inconsistent program visibility and administration. Moreover, data management systems meant to connect service providers are fraught by a combination of federal regulation and state legislative structures that prevent necessary collaboration from occurring. Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all policy solution when attending to children and families affected by drug use. Instead, legislation should focus on the creation of a coherent policy network, which uniformly connects families with needed resources and allows treatment providers, courts, case workers, and educators to collaborate as much as possible. This study serves to inform legislators both within Ohio and across the country of the strategic and structural mechanisms that are needed to mitigate the secondary effects of the opioid crisis.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, 1929-2022

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