The sudden departure Monday of Georgia’s Division of Children and Family Services (DFCS) director Rachelle Carnesale after less than a year left many child advocates scratching their heads. “It is a surprise to everybody,” said Normer Adams, Executive Director of the Georgia Association of Homes and Services for Children. A statement from Department of Human Services (DHS) spokesperson Ravae Graham said only that “Rachelle Carnesale is no longer with the Department.”
According to two child welfare specialists familiar with the situation, who wished to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the subject, DHS Commissioner Clyde Reese fired Carnesale. One specialist speculated Carnesale was dismissed because she was not making progress at the agency fast enough for Reese. He went on to say that, despite her good work, Carnesale did not have a “high profile presence” at the agency.
Following the sudden departure of director Rachelle Carnesale, Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Clyde Reese has named new interim leadership at the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS). Deputy Director Ron Scroggy will serve as Acting Director of DFCS. His new Acting Deputy Director will be Katherine Herren. In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Reese stressed the safety of the children involved with Georgia’s welfare agency was the top priority. “During this period of transition, it was important to appoint individuals that were experienced with Georgia’s social services field,” said Reese.
A bill aimed at preventing the overmedication of Georgia’s foster children might be dead this legislative session, but the spirit of the legislation lives on in a new a pilot program underway, its sponsor says. House Bill 23, the Foster Children’s Psychotropic Medication Monitoring Act, did not make last week’s critical “Crossover Day” deadline to advance to the state Senate, but Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) has confirmed that Casey Family Programs has stepped in to help assess the problem that the measure sought to address. The Seattle-based national foundation is funding a review of prescription patterns of psychotropic drugs for children in Georgia’s foster care system. The effort comes on the heels of a state Supreme Court report that found many children in state custody for extended periods are prescribed psychotropic drugs at “alarmingly high rates.” Casey has not yet disclosed the amount of money earmarked for the program that unofficially began in February. The Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory University Law School will operate the program, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) and other community partners.
There’s a new push for a full time medical director to oversee the medical needs of children in the care of both the Georgia’s Department of Human Services (DHS) and Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS). Commissioner Clyde Reese III and DFCS Director Rachelle Carnesale, both new to their posts, announced their support for the position during a recent House Children & Youth Committee meeting at the state capitol. “We believe that the appointment of a full time medical director would be beneficial to the department and the children we serve,” Reese said, during the hour-long meeting that covered updates on the status of foster care and child support collection services for the state’s children. The Medicaid and Medicare programs were also discussed. “We think it would be most beneficial to work with someone who does that every day.”
Governor – elect Nathan Deal has nominated Clyde Reese to run the Department of Human Services. The announcement came Friday afternoon, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Clyde Reese is an attorney and currently serves as Commissioner of Community Health, which administers Medicaid, Peachcare and the State Health Benefit Plan. He was appointed to the post last April by Governor Sonny Perdue. The DCH website describes Reese as a health care regulatory and administrative law specialist. He’s also been General Counsel for the State Health Planning Agency, and an Assistant Attorney General.
Last week Governor-Elect Deal nominated Clyde Reese as the new Commissioner of Department of Human Services pending the expected approval of the DHS Board. Clyde Reese is currently serving as the Commissioner of the Department of Community Health. Present Commissioner of DHS, B.J. Walker has served as its Commissioner since May of 2004. During that time the Department has made remarkable progress in shifting the child welfare culture to family centered practices, increased family engagement and outcome based management and decision making. Faced with sanctions and fines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and a child protection system busting at the seams with nearly 15,000 children, B.J.Walker’s mandate from the Governor was to bring about reform and improved outcomes for children. The numbers tell the story of these past six years. Since 2004, the number of children in foster care has been reduced by 50%. The re-abuse rate for children identified by the Department has declined by more than 70% and is half the national standard. Georgia has the fifth lowest rate of recurrence of child maltreatment in the U.S. In 2004, more than four thousand children had overdue investigations. Today that number is zero. Commissioner Walker in a letter to the board of DHS says, “I came here with much enthusiasm and energy. I leave that same way. Some of the most remarkable people I have ever known have worked for me here, put forth unbelievable efforts on behalf of the “right work, the right way,” and never let lack of time, money or resources take away from their desire to achieve greatness.”