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School hosts statewide conference on pregnancy and opioid exposure

The UNC School of Social Work sponsored “It Takes a Community Too: Pregnancy and Opioid Exposure, Improving Outcomes for Women, Infants and Families Conference,” Oct. 3, at the M.C. Benton, Jr. Convention Center in Winston-Salem.

This was the second statewide event of its kind, bringing together representation from behavioral health, child welfare, health care, and community corrections fields to respond to the needs of women who are pregnant and struggling with opioid use disorders. More than 380 participants converged to share perspectives from their fields and to learn best practices to link the mother to treatment options and to improve the outcomes for the infant and family. Participants collaborated across disciplines and within geographical regions to create local plans to address needs within their communities.

Topics covered included a keynote session on medication assisted treatment during pregnancy with Dr. Hendree Jones, PhD, LPC, executive director of UNC Horizons; as well as sessions regarding co-occurring disorders, evidence-based practice; community resiliency model overview; neonatal abstinence syndrome; and plans of safe care and child welfare. One of the highlights of the conference included a panel interview of two women in recovery from opioid use disorders, sharing their journey of pregnancy and parenting.

“We are fortunate in North Carolina to have the expertise of generous presenters on this important topic and very engaged professionals from all disciplines who are invested in supporting these vulnerable families,” said Melissa Godwin, LCSW, clinical assistant professor at the School of Social Work’s Behavioral Health Springboard and chair of the planning committee for the conference.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, UNC Horizons, UNC School of Medicine and the Northwest Area Health Education Center co-hosted the conference.

For more information on the North Carolina Pregnancy and Opioid Exposure Project, which is hosted by the UNC School of Social Work, Behavioral Health Springboard, go to