Monday, December 19, 2011

Midway native Teresa Jones James named acting head of state Dept. of Community Based Services

A Midway native has been named acting commissioner of the embattled state Department for Community Based Services, which has been under fire for its handling of child abuse and neglect cases.

The challenging assignment goes to Teresa James, who has been the department's deputy commissioner since April 2008 and "has 25 years of clinical social work experience, including more than 17 years working with severely abused and neglected children and their families and four years working with vulnerable adults," a state news release said.

James is the daughter of Clyde and Carolyn Jones and the second cousin of City Council member Doris J. Leigh, according to Mayor Tom Bozarth. James received bachelor’s and master's degrees in social work from Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky, respectively, and has been a licensed clinical social worker since 1993.

“Teresa is a proud and passionate social worker who has a wide range of experiences in her field,” Health and Family Services Secretary Janie Miller said in the release. “She has worked in pediatric medical settings with the issues of abuse and neglect and has dealt with issues surrounding children with chronic illness and severe health needs. She has also performed trauma and crisis intervention work and was a domestic violence trainer, educating more than 4,000 medical professionals a year on the issues surrounding violence in families.” When she worked in Florida, James helped develop a medical foster parenting program that "became the model for many states around the country," the release said.

James replaces Patricia Wilson, who quit this month as her department and cabinet continued to lose court battles with newspapers over records relating to their handling of child abuse and neglect and Gov. Steve Beshear told the agencies to be more transparent and accountable. For background from the Lexington Herald-Leader, click here.

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