Preconference: Turning the Tide: State Strategies to Meet the Needs of Families Affected by Substance Use Disorder

Wednesday, August 15th
8:00am – 4:00 pm

Breakfast and lunch are served during preconference sessions.
Download the Ebook for this preconference.

This unique preconference gives state policymakers a forum to identify and share innovative policy solutions to improve outcomes for women and children affected by substance use disorder (SUD). Learn about policy approaches to meet the unique needs of families affected by SUD or opioid use disorder, identify financing and service delivery options to ensure access to continuous care for women and children, and examine opportunities for cross-agency collaboration to efficiently support children and pregnant or parenting women affected by SUD. Participants include:

Kate Neuhausen, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Medical Assistance Services
Dr. Neuhausen is a board-certified family physician and the Chief Medicalj Officer of Virginia Medicaid, which serves over 1.1 million low-income Virginians. She led the development of the Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services (ARTS) program, increasingly recognized as a national model for integrating evidence-based addiction treatment into Medicaid Managed Care, as well as the implementations of the CDC Opioid Prescribing Guideline, a new Pharmacy Benefit Manager solution and Common Core Formlary.


Abby Shockley, Senior Policy Analyst, Substance Use Services, NH Department of Health and Human Services

Abby is a Senior Policy Analyst, Substance Use Services at the NH Department of Health and Human Services. Her work focuses on several of the Department’s substance use disorder (SUD) initiatives, including substance use disorder policy analysis and Medicaid coverage for SUD. Abby coordinates activities across the Department and with other State and Federal agencies, and develops and strengthens relationships with external stakeholders in support of the Department’s goals and policies in the area of substance use issues. She currently serves as the Project Director for SUD related programs funded by the Cures Act, including a targeted prevention program for child welfare involved families. Prior to joining DHHS, Abby worked with Bi-State Primary Care Association and the NH Alcohol and other Drug Service Providers Association. Before coming to NH, Abby worked on maternal and child health initiatives in Florida with Healthy Start and the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative.


Debra Bercuvitz, Perinatal Substance Use Coordinator, MA Dept. of Public Health

Debra Bercuvitz is the Substance Use Coordinator for the Massachusetts’ Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Family Health and Nutrition. She is currently leading projects to improve Early Intervention referrals and enrollment for babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Ms. Bercuvitz has been instrumental in the development of many state initiatives including the perinatal recovery coach workforce, perinatal substance use community collaboratives, IDEA Part C services for substance exposed newborns, and the Plan of Safe Care. She was formerly the director of a home visiting program staffed by peer mentors, working with perinatal women affected by substance use disorders, and their children.


Ashley Harrell, Senior Program Advisor, Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services

Ashley Harrell is the Senior Program Advisor to the Division Director of the Developmental Disabilities and Behavioral Health at the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services. Ashley’s role in the Medicaid agency over the past several years was leading the implementation of the transformation of the Medicaid substance use disorder treatment services – “Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services or ARTS”. ARTS has been recognized nationally as the model for States implementing Substance Use Disorder Demonstration Waivers. Prior to transitioning to Behavioral Health in June 2016, Ashley managed the Maternal and Child Health Division at the Medicaid agency to improve access to and enhance services for women and children eligible for Medicaid. Prior to her work for Medicaid, Ashley worked in a non-for-profit hospital in Petersburg, Virginia in the Skilled Care Unit, Intensive Care Unit and general acute care. Ashley also has several years’ experience at Army Community Services at Fort Lee, Virginia as the New Parent Support Program Advisor to promote healthy families through a variety of services including home visits, support groups, and parenting classes. In this role, Ashley assisted Soldiers and Families learn to methods to cope with stress, isolation, post-deployment reunions, and the everyday demands of parenthood.
Ashley is licensed in Clinical Social Work in Virginia as of 2002. Ashley graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with degrees both in Master’s in Social Work as well as a Magna Cum Laude, Bachelor’s in Social Work.


Karen Palombo, Team Lead - Substance Use Disorder Intervention and Treatment, Texas Health and Human Services

Karen Palombo works for the Health and Human Services Commission in the Medical and Social Services Division in the Substance Use Disorder Unit as the Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Intervention Team Lead in Texas. Prior to this experience she has worked in hospital settings, mental health and substance use disorder treatment settings and for 9 years. She graduated from Louisiana State University with her Masters in Social Work. She has three children and currently lives in Austin, Texas.

This preconference is supported through a cooperative agreement with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)