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Health and Family Services Cabinet
Mark A. Washington named commissioner of Department for Community Based Services

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, February 06, 2007  
Contact Information:  Anya Armes Weber, (502) 564-6180 or Vikki Franklin, (502) 564-7042  

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 6, 2007) – Mark A. Washington has been named commissioner of the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS).

Washington has served as deputy commissioner since December 2005. He was appointed acting commissioner last December.

“Mark’s commitment to service is unparalleled,” CHFS Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell said. “I’m impressed with his strong desire to improve the welfare of our thousands of clients across the Commonwealth. He equally respects and connects with leadership, lawmakers and staff. That’s a real advantage for the families we serve.”

DCBS is the state’s human services agency, and its staff provides child and adult protective services and determine eligibility for Medicaid, welfare assistance and food stamps.

Washington succeeds former commissioner Tom Emberton Jr., who was appointed CHFS undersecretary for Children and Family Services last November. 

“One of Mark’s strongest skills is communication,” Emberton said. “He knows how to ask the right questions of staff and other stakeholders to reach solutions. More importantly, he is an active listener.”

DCBS is part of the cabinet’s Children and Family Services office.

Washington said he will seek frequent input from central office and field staff in his decision making.

“I’m honored and humbled to get to work with our staff in the capacity of DCBS commissioner,” he said. “Our staff has tremendous experience in collaborating with providers to give clients and families more opportunities for health, safety and well-being,” he said. “I’m most looking forward to working with staff to improve upon the resource needs unique to each region and identifying opportunities for expansion and improvement.”

About 4,700 DCBS staff members serve families in every county.

Prior to serving in the DCBS Commissioner’s Office, Washington worked as executive adviser to Birdwhistell, who was then undersecretary of Health.

Washington has worked closely with management staff, field staff and community partners in the cabinet’s nine regions. During the past year, he has helped implement a multimillion dollar project funded by the state and other agencies for early intervention programs, substance abuse treatment services and resource enhancement for at-risk families across the Commonwealth. This program will offer a multifaceted approach to expanding prevention, treatment and support services for families impacted by substance abuse, targeting the reduction of child maltreatment and improving overall outcomes for families.

Washington has also committed to instilling the values of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Family to Family program, which promotes strong family and community partner involvement through neighborhood-based services delivery to build long-term supports for families at risk, as well as children in foster care. The nationally recognized S.T.A.R.T. (Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Team) project is one initiative he has promoted and implemented into the department’s practice and philosophy.

Washington is a University of Kentucky graduate. He and his wife, Kristie, live in Anderson County with their three daughters.

Also in DCBS, Donna Harmon has been named executive adviser to Commissioner Washington. She also serves as executive director of the University Training Consortium at Eastern Kentucky University.

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Last Updated 2/6/2007