Melissa Jenkins is a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Meredith College and earned her Master of Social Work with a concentration in Community, Management, and Policy Practice from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2018. Melissa found her passion in working with children with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD) and their parents through her BSW field placement with the North Carolina Down Syndrome Alliance. During her time in the MSW program, Melissa worked with Project NO REST, a statewide project to increase awareness and prevention around human trafficking by training local service providers to administer Project NO REST’s screening tool. She is currently a research assistant for Dr. Cindy-Fraga Rizo with Teach2Reach and previously worked on a collaborative reading intervention to increase reading comprehension and social interaction skills in middle school students with autism. Melissa’s substantive research areas include: (a) evidence-based school social work practices in the context of special education services; (b) social support of culturally and linguistically diverse parents of children with IDD; and (c) trauma-informed interventions for individuals with IDD. Recognizing the complexity of culture and neurodivergent identities in help-seeking behavior and accessibility to resources, Melissa will explore the individual and environmental factors that contribute to an increase risk of commercial sexual exploitation and the role of social workers in prevention efforts in her dissertation.
Degrees and LicensesMSW, UNC-Chapel Hill
BSW, Meredith College
Research and Professional InterestsHuman Trafficking
Presentations, Workshops and Media“A Citation Network Analysis of School Social Work and Special Education Journals: The Current Research Landscape.” Society for Social Work and Research 2021 Conference, San Francisco, CA.
“Using Structural Equation Modeling to Examine Effects of School and Family Support on Childhood ADHD and Meaningful Work Outcomes in Young Adulthood.” Society for Social Work and Research 2021 Conference, San Francisco, CA.
“Interventions for Treating Trauma among Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD): A Systematic Review.” Society for Social Work and Research 2020 Conference, Washington, D.C.
“Spatial Mapping of National Trends in School Discipline among White and Non-White Students with Disabilities.” Society for Social Work and Research 2020 Conference, Washington, D.C.