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Senate committee confirms DCF chief David Wilkins

After asking why he left the comfort of a corporate job to enter the fire of one of the hardest jobs in state government, a Senate committee confirmed David Wilkins to be secretary to the Department of Children of Families.

"You have picked the hardest category there is to choose,'' said Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice. "Why would you even want to do that to yourself and what qualifies you to head this department?"

Wilkins said that after serving as a child advocate and foster parent for 15 years, he believed he understood the system and, while he agreed it was a tough job, "I would say this is harder than I thought."

"Quite frankly, I made my living at Accenture and I wanted a job to make a difference,'' he said. "Even though my job is a very tough job, my job is not as tough as the investors...I think I can give some direction and leadership to this group."

 Wilkins said his trial by fire began with the death of Nubia Barahona and the subsequent investigation and agency review had prompted him to seek changes and reforms. He urged the legislature to restore the money cut from the substance abuse and mental health funding and said he urged them to fund $5.5 million for the abuse hotline "or we are at significant risk."

He said his long term goal will be to improve the investigative process for negligence and neglect casesand promised to return next year with recommendations. He said that the emphasis on prevention and diversion needed to be treated less like a pilot program and more like a department-wide policy.

"Even though my job is a very tough job, my job is not as tough as the investigators,'' he said. He added that his agency is "different than other government agencies because the people who signed up at DCF also want to make a difference."