SEATTLE, July 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Casey Family Programs has hired Kimberly S. Ricketts as managing director for strategic consulting. Ricketts will support child welfare practice in seven states while helping the foundation achieve its vision of ensuring that every child in America has a safe, strong and permanent family.
Ricketts served as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families after former Governor Jon S. Corzine appointed her to the position in June 2008. Under her continued leadership, the state was successful in safely reducing the number of children in foster care by 25 percent.
As managing director, Ricketts will bolster Casey Family Programs' efforts to safely reduce the nation's foster care population while supporting services that provide strong, lifelong connections for all children and youth. Since Casey launched its 2020 Strategy for America's Children five years ago, the number of children in foster care has declined from 511,000 in 2005 to 435,000 in 2009. Meanwhile, states, counties and tribes are providing appropriate services that keep children safe without removing them from their homes or communities.
New Jersey has demonstrated leadership in improving outcomes for children. In 2006, a federal court monitor began supervising the agency under a modified settlement agreement arising from a lawsuit that alleged deficiencies in the state's child welfare system. Ricketts was appointed commissioner two years later and, under her leadership, New Jersey made progress in a number of categories, as acknowledged by the court monitor in the most recent report covering the second half of 2009.
The federal court monitor found that Ricketts' agency provided children with greater access to healthcare, conducted more monthly caseworker visits with children, strengthened investigations, placed more children in family-like settings and kept more sibling groups together. Results included a reduction in abuse and neglect incidents while the children were in foster care, and less repeat maltreatment after they left foster care.
While improving safety, New Jersey has also reduced its foster care population. From July 2008 to December 2009, the number of children in the state's foster care system declined from 9,000 to 7,900. More children and youth were connected to permanent families. Over 1,400 New Jersey children were adopted from foster care in 2009.
At Casey Family Programs, Ricketts will support state, county and tribal work impacting more than 100,000 children and youth in foster care. She will direct the foundation's strategic consulting work in California, Oregon, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Nebraska, as well as in Puerto Rico. She will report to David Sanders, executive vice president for systems improvement.
"Kim Ricketts brings a wonderful blend of leadership, innovation and administrative skills to Casey Family Programs," Sanders said. "She was the catalyst for tremendous progress in a diverse, populous and challenging state. I am very pleased that her remarkable skills now will support our efforts in a number of key states."
Ricketts said she is looking forward to working at the foundation in a role that provides a unique opportunity to impact child welfare practice and policy on a national level.
"I'm very fortunate to have the opportunity to join Casey Family Programs and work alongside the most talented and dedicated child welfare professionals in the country," said Ricketts. "I look forward to utilizing my skills and experience to continue helping children in foster care throughout the country."
Prior to her appointment as commissioner, Ricketts served for two years as chief administrator of the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, a senior staff position of the Attorney General's office. In this role, she was responsible for overseeing a $1 billion budget and 9,000 employees. Under Ricketts' leadership, the department expedited the grants management review and approval process and improved the coordination of its resources. She also was a critical participant in the Governor's Strategy for Safe Streets and Neighborhoods, which worked to reduce youth violence, enhance law enforcement anti-gang strategies and successfully reintegrate former offenders into society.
Also in New Jersey, Ricketts has served as director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, executive director of the Governor's Task Force on Mental Health and chief of staff of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.
Before joining New Jersey government, Ricketts spent 13 years working with children and families in community, behavioral health and social service organizations in North Carolina, Florida and New Jersey. She has a Master of Education in school guidance and counseling from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she also received a bachelor's degree in human services.
About Casey Family Programs
Casey Family Programs is the nation's largest operating foundation focused entirely on foster care and improving the child welfare system. Founded in 1966, we work to provide and improve – and ultimately prevent the need for – foster care in the United States. Visit us at www.casey.org.
SOURCE Casey Family Programs