by Max Brantley
Guhman to Step in Temporarily to Oversee Division of Youth Services
Trusted advisor has years of experience as social worker, previously served as DYS Deputy Commissioner
The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) announced Tuesday that Betty Guhman will serve as the Interim Director of the DHS Division of Youth Services while the agency searches for a permanent director. She will begin serving in that role July 20.
Guhman, a native Arkansan, has served as a senior advisor to Governor Asa Hutchinson since 2014 with a particular focus on the Department of Human Services in general and child welfare.
“It has been an honor to have Betty Guhman serve as senior advisor to my administration. Betty and I have known each other since we attended Springdale High School together decades ago. Her advice and counsel have been invaluable to me throughout the years,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said. “While she is leaving the Governor's office, I am glad that she will be nearby as she takes the role of Interim Director of the Department of Youth Services. Betty's years of experience in child welfare and human services will be a perfect fit for DYS during this time of transition as they continue the search for a Director.”
Guhman began her career as a protective service worker for what is now the DHS Division of Children and Family Services in 1973. In 1977, she was named Deputy Commissioner of the newly formed Division of Youth Services. These positions were the beginning of a long career in public service, including time as a tenured professor at the University of Arkansas’s Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice and Social Work and the Director of the Fullbright School of Public Affairs. She also served as a Chief of Staff when Hutchinson was a Congressman and as Chief of Staff and advisor when he served as first Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“Betty has spent many years working for the children of Arkansas and working to solve complex issues affecting both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems,” said DHS Director Cindy Gillespie. “As I move into the next phase of agency review, she will be a great asset and a strong voice at the table.”
Guhman said she was excited when Gillespie asked if she’d consider serving in the role.
“Under the new leadership of Cindy Gillespie, this is a time to take hard looks at all DHS programs, policies and services, and considering ways to promote innovations and enhance partnerships,” Guhman said. “I look forward to working with DYS staff, service providers, advocates, legislators and the Governor’s office as we strengthen the services provided to DYS children and their families.”
She is a graduate of Springdale High School, has a Bachelor’s in Social Work from the University of Arkansas and a Master’s of Social Work Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.