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Contact: Thomas Shapley, 360-902-8007, thomas.shapley@dshs.wa.gov
Contact: Chris Case, 360-902-7892, chris.case@dshs.wa.gov
February 04, 2013
New leadership and emphasis for Children's Administration

OLYMPIA¦ Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Secretary Kevin W. Quigley named Jennifer Strus to serve on his Cabinet as acting assistant secretary for the Children’s Administration and directed her to focus immediately on reducing caseloads for Child Protective Services investigators and resolving child abuse and neglect cases more quickly.

"Governor Inslee, a parent and grandparent himself, expects that the safety of children be one of the Department’s top priorities," Quigley said. "I see my role as DSHS secretary as forcing us to drill down to the essentials, to our core mission to provide the efficiency and effectiveness the Governor is demanding out of all state government. And for Children's Administration, effectiveness means that children are safe."

Strus comes to the Department after more than 14 years on staff with Washington State Senate Committee Services, most recently as senior staff coordinator and counsel for the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee, where her duties included researching, analyzing and drafting legislation related to human services issues. Earlier, she served as coordinator and counsel for the Senate Children and Family Services Committee. Strus was also director of legal affairs for the Office of Financial Management and served as assistant attorney general providing legal representation to the Children's Administration at DSHS.

In the late '90s, Strus was the director of the Division of Program and Policy Development in the Children's Administration, where she oversaw development and implementation of statewide child welfare policy; assumed the responsibilities of the assistant secretary in her absence. She also reviewed, monitored and approved settlements for all tort actions filed against the Children's Administration; represented the administration on various boards and committees and developed and directed the CA's legislative and policy priorities.

Strus earned her law degree at Washburn University of Topeka School of Law in Topeka, Kans.
"I want to thank Jennifer for joining our team and taking on one of the most challenging jobs in state government – protecting our children from abuse and neglect," Quigley said. "Her years in the Senate working on social service issues and her earlier experience in the Children's Administration make her an excellent choice for this role.

"I expect Jennifer to put to use her broad experience and passion from day one. Children's Administration has made substantial strides in improving child safety and the child welfare system in recent years. I believe Jennifer is an excellent choice to help lead the Department into a new era of continued and accelerated improvement in the quality of state child welfare."

Strus' immediate priorities, Quigley said, are to reduce the caseloads for Child Protective Services workers across the state and to close CPS cases more quickly. Strus will also lead a comprehensive Children's Administration agenda to implement Differential Response, a strategy for decreasing foster care placements, and Performance Based contracting to add performance metrics to the child welfare system.

She has named Randy Hart as her deputy. Randy Hart is currently an area administrator for the Children's Administration and served as Children's interim assistant secretary in 2009.

"Randy knows the system intimately and is much respected by front-line workers for his thoughtful and knowledgeable leadership," Strus said. "He's the perfect choice to allow me to hit the ground running."

Strus began her assistant secretary role today at a salary of $124,000.

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