Rowe to chair DHR task force

By JAMES PHILLIPS, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 9/13/16

A Walker County lawmaker has been appointed by Gov. Robert Bentley to lead the task force examining the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

Rep. Connie Cooner Rowe (R-Jasper) was appointed as chair of the Human Resources Task Force by Bentley …

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Rowe to chair DHR task force

Posted

A Walker County lawmaker has been appointed by Gov. Robert Bentley to lead the task force examining the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

Rep. Connie Cooner Rowe (R-Jasper) was appointed as chair of the Human Resources Task Force by Bentley in Montgomery last week.

“I’m deeply honored to have been chosen to chair the task force, and I appreciate the governor for this opportunity,” Rowe said. “I interacted with DHR routinely during my law enforcement career and deeply appreciate the work they are charged with carrying out.”

Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed is a member of the task force.

“I congratulate Rep. Rowe on her appointment to serve as Chair of the DHR Task Force. Since her election to the House in 2014, Rep. Rowe has quickly proven to be an effective leader in the Legislature. With her background in law enforcement, including her service as Chief of Police for Jasper, she is uniquely qualified to assess how DHR can provide excellent service to Alabama’s families. The task force will benefit greatly from her expertise,” Reed said.

The nine-member task force was signed into existence by Bentley in August 2015 by executive order.

The original deadline for the group to report any suggested changes to state law and departmental policies was set for Jan. 15, 2016, but that deadline was extended later in late 2015 until Jan. 15, 2017.

Rep. Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) was originally named to chair the panel, but he stepped down from the position after being voted in as House speaker.

Bentley said Rowe’s background made her the right person for the job.

“I am proud to appoint Rep. Rowe as chair of the Human Resources Task Force,” Governor Bentley said. “I know her years of experience in law enforcement and her close work with the people of Walker County will guide her and the task force to continue to help us improve the State of Alabama. I appreciate Rep. Rowe for agreeing to serve in this important role.”

Rowe’s first meeting as chair of the task force will take place on Friday, Oct. 28 in Montgomery.

“I’m currently reviewing the work already accomplished by the task force during the last year,” she said. “I’m considering areas where we need to continue discussion and others where we’ve not scratched the surface. My intentions at this point are to move us forward on a feasible timeline and in an organized manner.”

In discussions with the governor, Rowe said she has suggested a three-stage report by the task force with the first part due Jan. 15, 2017 and two others on future dates with all reports completed within a year.

“This subject area is highly emotionally-charged as it deals with children and others in need of protection and intervention,” Rowe said.

DHR employs about 4,000 employees statewide with offices in all 67 counties. The task force is charged with analyzing DHR and the delivery of its services. Areas identified for action by Bentley when the panel was created were:

• Improving child abuse reports screening, and family assessments following those reports.

• Training of child welfare workers and supervisors.

• Early intervention and prevention for children and families at risk of abuse.

• More transparency.

• Review of foster care services.

• How to increase the use of local resources.

• Reviewing the child protection system to focus on whether intervention is making a difference in the lives of children.

The purpose of the task force, is not merely to be critical, but to look at ways to improve operations and delivery of human services and, Rowe said.

“There are always opportunities to make even the best processes better,” she said. “The governor’s decree is very specific in defining our role in this endeavor and I anticipate adhering closely to that intended scope.”