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Faculty briefs

Professor Rebecca Macy was recently appointed to the board of directors for the Center for Child and Family Health. The Center is a non-profit that provides services to children and families, and was established as a program among UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University and North Carolina Central University. Macy joins the board as one of the UNC representatives. The Center strives to define, practice, and disseminate the highest standards of care in the field of prevention and treatment of childhood trauma. Services include clinical treatment of child traumatic stress and related diagnoses as well as prevention programs.

Research Assistant Professor C. Joy Stewart is now the co-principal investigator of the Management Assistance for Child Welfare, Work First, and Food & Nutrition Services in North Carolina project. Along with Research Professor Dean Duncan, principal investigator, Stewart will help lead this partnership of over 15 years between the Jordan Institute for Families and the North Carolina Division of Social Services that provides information on child and family outcomes to social services managers in order to guide policy and practice. The theoretical framework and data infrastructure for this work was recently featured in the Children and Youth Services Review article, “Using Big Data for Evidence Based Governance in Child Welfare,” (Kum, Stewart, Rose, & Duncan, 2015;

In addition, Stewart will serve as principal investigator of a project with the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts to assist the North Carolina Court Improvement Program in measuring and improving juvenile court outcomes.  This partnership began in July 2014 and was recently renewed demonstrating the benefit of this work to the agency’s efforts to effectively serve children and youth involved in child abuse and neglect cases.

Clinical Associate Professor Sarah Verbiest is the principal investigator of a newly-awarded Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute grant entitled, “Defining Unmet Patient-centered Health Care Needs in the 4th Trimester.” Verbiest will be collaborating with a number of key partners, including the School of Medicine, the Carolina Breastfeeding Institute, Duke’s Durham Connects program, and Sister Song in Atlanta. The 4th trimester refers to the weeks following delivery, when a woman must recover from childbirth, adapt to changing hormones, and learn to feed and care for her newborn. The project’s goal is to bring together mothers, health care providers, and other stakeholders to define what families need most during the 4th trimester. Based on the unmet health priorities that stakeholders identify, they will design research studies to deliver optimal care during this critical period, improving outcomes for mothers, infants and families.

Emeritus Professor Dennis Orthner‘s CareerStart Program, started in North Carolina, is expanding further in Israel, into more school districts this year. Orthner will be traveling to Israel in January to train more administrators and teachers in CareerStart methods, and help them create career fairs for their middle schools. He will also be working with their evaluation team to begin a formal evaluation of the program to augment the qualitative work they are doing so far.

Faculty and doctoral students present at CSWE

Several UNC School of Social Work faculty and students participated in the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) annual program meeting in Denver, Oct. 15-18. Presenters included:

  • Doctoral students Wen Li and Jennifer O’Brien, and Professor Matthew Howard, “Problem Internet Overuse Behaviors in College Students: Readiness to Change and Receptivity to Treatment.”
  • Li, O’Brien, Assistant Professor Cindy Fraga Rizo, and Professor Rebecca Macy, “Measurement of Substance Use Among CPS- and/or Justice-Involved Female IPV Survivors.”
  • Clinical Professor Anne Jones, and Clinical Associate Professors Lisa Zerden and Denise Dews, “Preparing MSW Students for Integrated Behavioral Healthcare through Interprofessional Education: Lessons Learned.”
  • Dews and Clinical Assistant Professor Jean Livermore, “Who’s Taking Care of Our Students? Social Work Interns and Compassion Fatigue.”
  • Livermore and Clinical Assistant Professor Ronni Zuckerman, “Beyond the Basics: Advanced Supervision Training for Experienced Field Instructors.”
  • Clinical Associate Professor Rebecca Brigham, “Connecting With Field Education: Sharing Best Practices,” and “2015 EPAS Information for Field Directors.”

Research group focusing on mental health and criminal justice makes conference presentations

A research group that includes Associate Professor Gary Cuddeback, Assistant Professor Amy Wilson, and Clinical Assistant Professors Marilyn Ghezzi and Tonya VanDeinse, made three presentations at the American Public Health Association’s 143rd Annual Meeting and Expo, in Chicago, in October: “Specialty Mental Health Probation Approaches in Urban and Rural Settings: Outcomes and Implementation Challenges,”  “Improving the Impact of Mental Health Courts,” and poster, “Probationers with Severe Mental Illness: Probation Officers’ Perceptions of Supervision Challenges Across Rural and Urban Settings.” They also presented at the Eastern AHEC 31st Annual Substance Abuse Services State of the Art Conference, in November, on “Persons with Severe Mental Illness and Co-occurring Substance Use Disorders in the Criminal Justice System: Implications for Policy, Practice, and Research.”  They have an upcoming presentation in December at NIH and AcademyHealth’s 8th Annual Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation, in Washington, D.C., on “Enhancing the Evidence for Specialty Mental Health Probation Through a Hybrid Efficacy and Implementation Study.”

Fifth Wicked Problems Institute held in Chicago

Spears-Turner Distinguished Professor Mark F. Testa and Clinical Assistant Professor Selena Childs led the fifth child welfare-focused Wicked Problems Institute, in Chicago, on Oct. 20-21. The Institute was attended by 80 people representing 18 states affiliated with the Children’s Home Society of America. As with past Institutes, Dean Jack Richman and the Jordan Institute for Families were major supporters of the event. Past Wicked Problems Institutes have led to collaboration resulting in three current federal initiatives for which Testa is the principal investigator: The Illinois Birth-Three IV-E Waiver Demonstration; the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Wellbeing; and the Quality Improvement Center for Adoption and Guardianship Support and Preservation.

Upcoming AHEC presentations by faculty

  • Dec. 2, NWAHEC – New Directions in Autism: Moving Forward from Childhood to Adulthood – Breakout Session: “Let’s Talk About It! The Power of Promoting Disability Awareness, Understanding, Acceptance and Advocacy” – Sherry Mergner. Learn more
  • Dec. 17, Eastern AHEC –”The Real Dope on Drug Abuse” – Marty Weems

More information on AHEC programs.