Oklahoma City—Jami Ledoux, Child Welfare Services Director for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, has announced her resignation effective May 31. Ledoux, a 17-year veteran of the agency, said she intendeds to pursue opportunities outside of the agency and attributes her decision, in large part, to the toll the job has taken on her family.
"This is not a decision that I have taken lightly, as I have regarded my service as Oklahoma's Child Welfare Director as the greatest responsibility and honor of my professional career," said Ledoux.
"The decision for me to leave at this time is one that is focused on the well-being of my family. This is difficult work and the job of Child Welfare Director is one of the most difficult jobs in state government. I knew when I accepted this position that the stress and toll of functioning at this level would be too great to last more than a season.
"We have been dealing with the added stress and pressure of a Settlement Agreement and monitoring from outside individuals who are charged with rendering judgements about our efforts and progress in reforming the foster care system. The combined impacts of the normal pressures leading a child welfare division, along with the responsibility for implementing a Settlement Agreement, have led to this decision."
Ledoux said as challenging as this role has been for her and for her family, she leaves with no regrets and is proud of everything her team has accomplished during her leadership.
"Leading this army of public servants and serving alongside such a committed group of partners across the state has truly been one of the greatest honors of my entire life. I truly believe the work we have done has and will continue to transform the lives of countless Oklahomans.
"Because of our work, children are more likely to be able to remain safely in their own homes with services. More children are with families than ever before. Children are less likely to exit care without a permanent family. Children are less likely to experience multiple moves while in care. We have become more trauma-informed, more focused on child well-being, and more collaborative in our work. "
DHS Director Ed Lake said he certainly understands Ledoux's decision to leave but has mixed emotions by her departure.
"State child welfare at every level has been described as "anxious work," said Lake. "The constant pressure of making consequential decisions literally every day on top the many internal and external demands on a child welfare director eventually take their toll. On one hand, I am very happy for Jami and her family. This is a wonderful opportunity for her and one she richly deserves. On the other hand, I am sad that DHS and Oklahoma are losing such a bright, committed, and gifted talent from our ranks."
Ledoux accepted the role as the Child Welfare Services (CWS) director on August 17, 2015 after serving as interim director for nearly a year previously. She took the reins of CWS at a critical juncture in the implementation of the Pinnacle Plan. She had been serving as the Deputy Director of Continuous Quality Improvement and Staff Development in CWS.
Ledoux began her career with DHS in 2001 as a permanency planning worker in CWS in Oklahoma County. She worked her way up through the front-line ranks as a supervisor of permanency planning staff and eventually as an assistant county director responsible for permanency planning, child protective services, and family centered services.
Ledoux holds both bachelors and master's degrees in social work from the University of Oklahoma.
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