Brunswick County considers using $169,703 in opioid settlement funding for substance abuse clinician

A request has been submitted asking the board of commissioners to use $169,703 in opioid settlement funds to support a full-time clinician.
Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 1:17 PM EST
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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - The Brunswick County Department of Social Services has requested the board of commissioners use $169,703 in opioid settlement funds to support a full-time mental health and substance abuse clinician.

About $13.6 million in NC Opioid Settlement funds were allocated to Brunswick County to be dispersed between 2022 and 2038.

“Last fiscal year, the department received 46 reports of babies born positive for drugs, 87 children entered foster care, and on average there are 165 children in foster care. Of the children currently in foster care, the primary reason for filing the custody petition was opioid use,” states the department in the request.

They write that social workers are trained in child welfare policy: supervising visits, attending medical appointments, visiting parents and foster families, making sure parents’ health needs are met and other such tasks.

“However,” the department says. “Our social workers are not mental health/substance abuse experts nor are they able to stay abreast of the ever-changing complex mental health system. Navigating the mental health system to access treatment for mental health and substance abuse treatment is challenging at best. Assistance with referrals for assessments and treatment for both parents and children is needed.”

The clinician would be hired for substance abuse and mental health specifically. They would perform mental health or substance abuse assessments, refer patients for treatments, help place children with specialized needs and help people navigate local substance abuse and mental health services.

The commissioners will consider the request at their meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 17. You can find the request from the DSS and the budget for the clinician bellow; the full meeting agenda is available on the county’s website.