BY: GREG LAROSE
Gov. John Bel Edwards has elevated acting Department of Children and Family Service Secretary Terri Ricks to a permanent role, his office announced Wednesday. Ricks has been holding the position since Marketa Walters stepped down last month.
Ricks becomes the figurehead for an agency under close watch following a series of deaths this year involving children whose households had been reported to authorities. Legislators have held multiple hearings with DCFS officials to seek accountability and reform.
In the same statement on Ricks’ appointment, the governor announced Amanda Brunson was named DCFS assistant secretary.
“No doubt there are many challenges facing child welfare agencies, including here in Louisiana,” Edwards said in the statement, “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.”
Before her interim leadership role, Ricks served as DCFS deputy secretary since 2016. She was previously the undersecretary of the department from 2004 to 2008 when it was known as the Department for Social Services. In the interim, Ricks was the head of human resources for Baton Rouge Community College and general counsel for the Louisiana Housing Corp.
Brunson joined DCFS last year as its special projects officer in the Child Welfare division. Prior to that she was the governor’s director of Women’s Policy since 2019. Brunson also spent 16 years with Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana.