More than four-years after Children’s Rights, a New York-based non-profit, filed a law suit on behalf of nine children in Oklahoma, a settlement has been reached that will bring changes to the state’s child welfare system. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell approved the settlement reached between Children’s Rights and Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services in January. “There just has not been the funding to hit some of these critical needs,” Sheree Powell, communications coordinator for the state’s Department of Human Services, said. “We don’t control the purse strings, but it was understood in federal court that we’ll make good-faith efforts to improve everything within our control.”
Under the agreement, “specific strategies to improve the child welfare system” as it relates to 15 performance areas will be outlined, detailed and put into practice over the next four years. “We’re confident the settlement will result in better services and protection than foster children [in Oklahoma] currently receive,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, Founder and Executive Director of Children’s Rights.
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.
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.