Monday, April 20, 2015

Top Arizona child-welfare official departs

Mary Jo Pitzl, The Republic | azcentral.com6:49 p.m. MST April 20, 2015

 

 

Gov. Doug Ducey's handpicked second-in-command at the state's child-welfare agency has moved on after 2 ½ months.

Vicki Mayo's departure from the Department of Child Safety comes as the agency is also losing its two in-house attorneys, and adds to the churn that has characterized its upper ranks since Greg McKay became director in February.

Ducey's office said Mayo is transferring to a position at the state Department of Economic Security after she helped to get DCS off to a "strong start."

"We are pleased that she will be bringing her passion for children and families to a critical division at DES," Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said in a prepared statement.

Ducey's spokesman did not return a phone call seeking comment on why her tenure at the child-welfare agency was so brief. Nor did agency officials answer a similar question. Mayo was not available for comment.

At DES, Mayo will serve as deputy assistant director of the division of Employment and Rehabilitation Services. In that role, she will oversee programs such as child-care assistance, unemployment insurance, employment services and rehabilitation services.

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Ducey tapped Mayo, along with McKay, to lead DCS after firing Director Charles Flanagan in February. In naming her as DCS deputy director, Ducey praised her record of advocacy for children's issues and cited her business background for providing needed managerial skills.

But soon after, McKay moved Mayo into a post that oversees the agency's business operations and contracts.

 

In addition to Mayo's transfer, deputy general counsel Beth Broeker is moving to the Department of Juvenile Corrections, where she will serve as chief hearing officer. DCS general counsel Allister Adel also resigned, effective April 24.

Adel filed a whistle-blower complaint against McKay earlier this year, although the reason for the filing remains unknown. Ducey's office has claimed attorney-client privilege in refusing to disclose the complaint, although Adel was acting as McKay's attorney, not Ducey's.

In her resignation letter, Adel alluded to internal turmoil, citing "the myriad of legal, process related and policy concerns I have raised and observed." She did not elaborate, but said she felt she could be more effective in advancing child safety "from a distance, given current circumstances."

The resignations continue a string of departures as McKay works to revamp the agency.

Last month, he fired all but one of the eight members of the internal-investigations staff, after saying they would be welcome to apply for other positions within the agency. The eighth staffer accepted a lateral transfer.

McKay has also dismissed program managers who lead regional field offices, announced the agency will not immediately investigate every report it receives and issued a detailed dress code intended to project a more professional demeanor in the community.

McKay has made no apologies for his management style, saying he's trying to make it clear it is imperative for the agency to "put eyes on every child" who comes to DCS' attention.

Reach the reporter at maryjo.pitzl@arizonarepublic.com or at 602-444-8963.

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/politics/2015/04/20/top-arizona-child-welfare-official-departs/26104473/