Governor Dan McKee today announced that he has selected Ashley Deckert as his nominee to serve as the next Director of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). Deckert will replace Kevin Aucoin, who has served as Acting Director since 2019. The Governor will submit Deckert’s name to the Rhode Island Senate for advice and consent.
“Ashley has dedicated her successful career to enhancing the wellbeing of children and families,” said Governor McKee. “She is an experienced leader with a proven track record and I am grateful she is bringing that knowledge and experience Rhode Island.”
Deckert brings over 16 years of experience in various sectors of child welfare. She began her career as a Foster Care Child Welfare Specialist in Illinois, spent 13 years at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in roles ranging from child protection to licensing and eventually as Deputy Director of Child Services and has risen to her current position as Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs with the Illinois Collaboration on Youth, where her responsibilities included oversight of proposed legislation for improving the child welfare system. She also serves as an Adjunct Instructor for the University of Illinois School of Social Work and has guest lectured at Illinois State University.
“I am extremely honored to be considered for the position of Director for the Department of Children, Youth, and Families for the state of Rhode Island,” said Deckert. “If confirmed, I look forward to working with amazing and dedicated staff, community-based providers, the Rhode Island General Assembly, the union, and other pertinent stakeholders to impact systems change and work toward continual improvement of the child and family well-being system in Rhode Island. To do this we must center youth and family voice and look at providing services and support further upstream in order to prevent involvement in the child protection system. Furthermore, I firmly believe that a paradigm shift is needed; we must use the levers within and outside of our system in order to create solutions that acknowledge the whole parent. When parents thrive, children thrive, but it requires a shift in the way we see parents that come to our attention.”
“Ashley brings years of child welfare experience to Rhode Island, and I look forward to working together with her as DCYF continues to strengthen its supports for children and families and work towards accreditation,” said Ana Novais, Acting Secretary of the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services. “We are grateful to Kevin Aucoin for the stable leadership he has provided DCYF over the past four years and throughout his career.”
As Director of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, Deckert will oversee the department’s four divisions – Child Welfare, Child Protective Services, Juvenile Correctional Services, and Permanency. DCYF is an agency within the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.
Deckert has a BA and a Master of Social Work from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MA in Public Policy.
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