Students dancing with teacher

As More Children Show Symptoms of Trauma, Head Start Programs Expand Support Services

In some cases, staff had to evacuate entire classrooms to ensure the safety of the other children in their care.

Prescott oversees 18 Head Start preschool programs across two Ohio counties sandwiched between Dayton and Cincinnati. She recalls that when she got the job in 2011 as director of early childhood programs for the Butler County Educational Service Center, which encompasses Butler and Preble counties, “It was usually a couple of classrooms that we’d be like, ‘Whoa, this is really chaotic.’ I would get that call maybe two or three times a year.”

But in recent years, as the opioid crisis has transformed homes and communities across Ohio—overdose death rates in the state are up 300 percent since 2009—those calls have skyrocketed in number. Prescott says that every year for the last few years, she’s seen an average of two, sometimes three, children with significant behavioral challenges in each of the 40 Head Start classrooms under her purview.