Jamia McDonald

RIPR FILE

Department of Children, Youth, and Families officials told a joint senate committee Wednesday they're making progress addressing 20 recommendations lawmakers issued in January.

Jamia McDonald was appointed to oversee those changes. Among a long list of initiatives underway at the child welfare agency, McDonald told committee members DCYF is working on improving the way new cases are handled and on moving more children out of group homes.

John Bender / RIPR

A Senate task force has come out with a troubling report on Rhode Island’s Department of Children Youth and Families – the agency that oversees child welfare and the state’s foster care system.  The report found significant evidence that some children in the system are not being well-served. Now serious questions are being raised about how the department is run.

Rhode Island Public Radio education reporter Elisabeth Harrison talked about the issue with task force co-chair State Senator Lou DiPalma.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

A bill to change the requirements to lead the state Department of Children, Youth and Families ran into opposition from social workers during a House Education and Welfare Committee meeting Wednesday evening. The two sides also disputed the reason for persistent budgetary overruns at DCYF

Six social workers argued that expertise in protecting children is vital for the next head of DCYF. A bill under consideration by the House Education and Welfare Committee would eliminate a requirement that the director have a master’s in social work (or a closely related field).

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo has picked Jamia McDonald, a respected state government veteran, for a high-profile role within the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Some comings and goings in Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s office:

Jamia McDonald is moving from deputy chief of staff and the governor’s liason to the state’s emergency management agency to become executive director of RIEMA.

Christian Vareika, the governor’s deputy communications director and chief speechwriter, is leaving the administration to attend law school. Vareika worked on Chafee’s 2010 campaign and has crafted major Chafee speeches.

Communications Associate James Alvarez is leaving the administration to pursue a creer in the U.S. Army.