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Editor’s note: The news story Gov. Chris Sununu refers to below was written by reporter Allie Morris in the Concord Monitor. DCYF Director Lorraine Bartlett announced her retirement in January, which was to be effective April 1.
Gov. Chris Sununu’s press release in response to a published report of mass closures of open child protection assessments in February of 2016 at the State of New Hampshire Health and Human Services, Division of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF):
“The safety and success of children and families has been and will continue to be my top priority. After learning of these actions taken under the previous administration, Commissioner Meyers and I took immediate steps to address our serious concerns. Effective today, the Division Director [Lorraine Bartlett] has been placed on administrative leave. At the same time, we are evaluating the possibility of utilizing outside counsel to thoroughly examine this issue to determine where the system broke down and more importantly, review the status all 1,520 assessment closures and determine whether any should be re-opened.”
Effective today, Department of Health and Human Services, Human Services Division Director Maureen Ryan has been appointed Interim Director of the Division of Children Youth and Families. Maureen will oversee the operation of DCYF until a new permanent director is appointed. A national search is currently underway to recruit for that position.
Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeff Meyers stated, “The closure of 1,520 open child assessments over a two-day period was undertaken just days after my confirmation as commissioner of the Department and was never discussed with me either before or after my taking office. The closure of these cases was not undertaken consistent with best practices or in accordance with established DCYF policies and procedures.”
Sununu concluded, “The protection of our children is one of the Department’s most important responsibilities. DCYF needs new leadership. We are committed to making necessary changes within the department and within the division to ensure the use of best practices in all programs and services.”