On December 21, Gov. John Bel Edwards named Terri Ricks the new secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services, according to the press release. Ricks has been serving as interim Secretary since former Sec. Marketa Walters stepped down last month. Gov. Edwards also named Amanda Brunson as Deputy Secretary. Brunson has been with DCFS since 2021, when she was hired as Special Projects Officer in the Child Welfare Division.
“I want to thank Terri and Amanda for their dedication and willingness to fill these important roles,” said Gov. Edwards. “No doubt there are many challenges facing child welfare agencies, including here in Louisiana, but I am impressed by the way Terri has taken her years of knowledge and put it into leading the department and finding solutions. Amanda likewise will be a vital asset as we work to give Louisiana’s children the services they deserve.”
According to the press release, Ms. Ricks has played an essential role in the leadership and management of DCFS and has been responsible for enterprise-wide efforts since 2016. Those efforts include leading the restructuring of DCFS in 2016 and fundamentally reframing the Family Support Division to include a greater emphasis on workforce initiatives, a shift to more family-centered child support, increased client access through more robust customer service, and increased poverty competency of staff. Ms. Ricks represents DCFS on the Governor’s Workforce and Education Subcabinet, a cross-agency collaborative effort primarily focused on harnessing Louisiana’s untapped talent. She also led the efforts to create the department’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) unit. Responsive to Louisiana’s needs, she has increased partnerships with community organizations, national foundations, and others to decrease poverty and increase equity and family stability.