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Health and Family Services Cabinet
Tom Emberton Jr. named undersecretary of Children and Family Services

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, December 19, 2006  
Contact Information:  Anya Armes Weber, (502) 564-6180 or Vikki Franklin, (502) 564-7042  

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 19, 2006) – Tom Emberton Jr. has been named undersecretary of Children and Family Services in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS).

Emberton has served as commissioner of the cabinet’s Department for Community Based Services (DCBS), the state’s social services agency, since July 2005.

“In addition to strong management experience and staff development skills, Tom brings to this position a dedication to the delivery of quality family services, as demonstrated by his work as DCBS commissioner,” CHFS Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell said.

Emberton said he is up to the challenge of the undersecretary role.

“I’m ready to build upon our firm foundation of children and family services to better assist the thousands of Kentuckians who benefit from our programs,” he said. “I will continue to strengthen the cabinet’s relationships with local providers so we can bring these services to the communities and neighborhoods where they are needed most.”

The Children and Family Services office includes DCBS and the Commission for Children with Special Health Care Needs (CCSHCN).

In the past year and a half, Emberton led the DCBS reorganization, which is helping to reduce worker caseloads and equalize resources. He also has spearheaded the DCBS modernization effort, which emphasizes using improved technology and modern business practices in daily work. Most child and adult protective services workers are also receiving updated tools like cellular phones and digital cameras.

Emberton works with the cabinet’s blue ribbon panel on adoption to improve the state’s adoption and foster care system and is working to expand statewide a Jefferson County parent advocate program that helps keep families at risk for child removal together.

Under Emberton’s leadership, the department announced a multimillion dollar grant project funded by the state and other agencies and given to nine communities across the state for substance abuse services and early intervention programs with the goal of reducing child abuse and child removals.

He also spearheaded the department’s safety task force, implemented several department-wide security measures and improved internal communications.

“I’ll continue to keep in regular contact with our front-line staff,” Emberton said. “Their commitment to families and their work to build trusting relationships with them has no doubt changed thousands of lives.”

Emberton is a U.S. Navy veteran who served from 1987 to 1992, spending his final year as a command training chief. He graduated from Western Kentucky University with a bachelor’s degree in general health studies, and has master’s degrees in management and health services administration from Troy State University and the University of Evansville, respectively.

Prior to that, he was director of operations for five years at the Louisville-based Kindred Healthcare/Vencor, which has facilities in three states. He has held positions at Rosewood Healthcare/Vencor and Sunrise Healthcare in Bowling Green.

Emberton is also a licensed nursing home administrator in Kentucky, Emberton has served in management positions at nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities.

Emberton lives in Frankfort with his wife, Stephanie, and their three children.

Emberton succeeds Eugene Foster, Ed.D., who is now a CCSHCN consultant for child welfare.

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Last Updated 12/19/2006