by Max Brantley
Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) attorney and interim Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Director Mischa Martin has been named as the permanent director after serving in the role temporarily for three months.
“Mischa has been a tremendous asset and steadying force within the division in the midst of significant changes in the last few months,” said DHS Director Cindy Gillespie. “She has strong relationships with many people in the child welfare system, a passion for working with our most vulnerable children and a willingness to think outside the box to find solutions to big issues plaguing the system.”
Martin has been serving as interim director since April 1.The Division investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect, oversees the foster care system, including adoptions of children in foster care, and works to prevent abuse through outreach and education campaigns.
Gillespie said she chose Martin for the position, in part because she felt it was imperative to have a leader willing to not only take an in-depth look at the issues facing the Arkansas child welfare system, but also someone willing to work with legislators, judges and stakeholders to make necessary changes so that we can meet the goals of ending the generational cycles of abuse, reducing the number of children in the foster care system and finding ways to keep and retain talented workers.
“I’m honored to take this position because it allows me to come to work every day and protect children,” Martin said. “I look forward to working with judges, foster parents, non-profit partners and the many other people who help us do our job of keeping kids safe and providing them with stable, loving homes.”
An Arkansas native, Martin received her Bachelors of Arts in Political Science, Juris Doctorate and Master of Public Administration degrees from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2004, 2007 and 2008, respectively. She came to work as a child welfare and adult protective services attorney at DHS in 2008, was tapped as assistant deputy counsel in 2013 and an attorney supervisor in 2014 in the Department’s Office of Chief Counsel (OCC). She replaces Cecile Blucker, who left earlier this year after x years at the helm.
To learn more about becoming a foster parent, visit www.fosterarkansas.org. For information on ways to prevent child abuse, visit www.stoparchildabuse.com.