Plus, two late additions to regional leadership made by Trump administration
There is still no news on who President Joe Biden will nominate or appoint to fill the key child welfare leadership spots at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the large agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that oversees child welfare funding and policy along with many other family assistance programs. It could be that names won’t surface until the confirmation of the president’s nominee to actually lead HHS, current California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
Our understanding from sources is that Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who founded and co-chairs the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, has shared a list of recommendations with the Biden team. Some child welfare advocates and lobbyists have been pushing for the administration to fill at least one of the big jobs with a person who actually spent time in foster care.
Still others are calling for Biden to bring back Trump-era Children’s Bureau leader Jerry Milner, who focused his tenure on promoting an upstream movement of federal attention away from foster care and toward family preservation. Milner penned an op-ed published by The Imprint last week that highlighted the Children’s Bureau’s accomplishments on that score, while excoriating his former boss Trump for family separations at the border and the administration’s treatment of LGBTQ foster youth.
But Biden has hired a chief of staff, Larry Handerhan, to help his administration hit the ground running at ACF, which is currently being lead by Acting Assistant Secretary Ben Goldhaber, a longtime civilian staffer at Health and Human Services.
Handerhan moves across town from his previous post in the city government for Washington, D.C., where he was chief of staff at the Department of Human Services. He served in the Obama administration at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he was a deputy secretary focused on internal management of the agency.
Youth Services Insider also noticed that ACF has a few new faces within its regional ranks that joined the agency in the late days of the Trump administration. The agency has 10 regional offices that, at least in the previous administration, served as the go-to for states on questions and technical assistance needs around the Family First Prevention Services Act.
Three of the 10 regional administrators have come on board since August:
Christie Appelhanz, former executive director of the Children’s Alliance of Kansas, who oversees Region Seven (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska).
Erin McDonald, a nonprofit veteran who most recently served as New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s chief strategy and innovation officer for human services. McDonald leads Region Three: Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.
Pete Weldy, a policy veteran who helped make children's issues a focus in the 2018 California gubernatorial race, is leading Region Nine, covering Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and American territories. Weldy was once director of public policy for the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and before that worked on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act for the Indiana Department of Education.