DHR announces new Fulton County DFCS chief

Commissioner B. J. Walker (center) announces the appointment of Dannette Smith (right) as the new Fulton County DFCS director at a press conference August 1, 2007. Also on hand was state DFCS Director Mary Dean Harvey.

August 1, 2007

(ATLANTA) The Division of Family and Children Services has named Dannette Smith the new director of Fulton County DFCS. Smith will join Commissioner BJ Walker and Mary Dean Harvey, director of the Division of Family and Children Services, at a news conference Wednesday, August 1 at 10:30 a.m. at 2 Peachtree Street, on the 29th Floor.

Smith, who takes the helm September 10, will be responsible for directing the child welfare services of the state’s largest DFCS office, including managing a staff of more than 1,300. Smith comes to Atlanta from North Carolina where she had been the director of the Mecklenburg County Department of Youth and Family Services since 2001. There, she managed a staff of 400 and a budget of $47 million and is credited with transforming the county department into a community-based organization with a family-centered services approach.

"One of the best things we can do for children in the state’s care is to find the right people for crucial management positions in the child welfare system," said Commissioner Walker. We were looking for someone who could step into the role and make significant and immediate contributions in a change environment. Dannette Smith is the right person for Fulton County at the right time," she said.

Smith engaged all parts of Mecklenburg County, including school systems, mental health organizations, and families to achieve success in child abuse investigations, foster care services, and adoptions. But it is Smith’s experience with the federal Child and Family Service Review (CFSR) process that helped the county’s Youth and Family Services division transform into an organization driven solely by the needs of the community. Georgia recently underwent the CFSR process and is awaiting the federal report.

"Ms. Smith has demonstrated very effective leadership in moving a large metropolitan child welfare program in the right direction, in engaging the community around common goals and values, and in focusing on improved outcomes for children and families under her watch," said Jerry Milner, senior welfare specialist of the Children’s Bureau, and national team leader of the CFSR. "Her commitment to improving child welfare practice in the field will be an asset for Georgia's children served by DFCS," he said.

Fulton County has been without a permanent director since April however, the county continued to make significant progress in its service to the children and families of Fulton County. Since April there has been 66 percent decrease in cases pending between 30 – 59 days, a 30 percent decrease of cases pending between 60 – 89 days, and an overall 39 percent decrease in backlog cases. Since April the County department has also hired 58 new child protective services investigators.

To listen to an audio recording of the August 1, 2007 press conference, click on this link:

For information contact:
Dena Smith, 404-656-4937