PHILADELPHIA – Mayor Kenney, today, reinforced his Administration’s unwavering commitment to supporting children and families by establishing a new Office of Children and Families (OCF), which will oversee and coordinate the City’s work for these groups.
“The profound success of PHLpreK, Community Schools, and other initiatives led by the Mayor’s Office of Education over the last four years has not only changed the way the City delivers programs for children and families but also how we partner with the School District,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “As we head into the next term, it’s time to strengthen and coordinate all City operations, policy, and prevention services for the children and families of Philadelphia. This new Office will work to keep more kids safe, build stronger families, and increase support for our city’s schools.”
Established by executive order, the Office of Children and Families’ portfolio includes:
- The Department of Human Services (child welfare and juvenile justice);
- PHLpreK, the City’s free, quality pre-K program;
- Community Schools; and
- Prevention Support Services (Out-of-School Time, Youth Workforce Development, Truancy, Summer/Winter Meals, and Attendance Initiatives)
To lead this new office, Mayor Kenney has appointed Cynthia Figueroa to serve as Deputy Mayor for the Office of Children and Families. Ms. Figueroa most recently served as Commissioner of the City’s Department of Human Services. While there, she stabilized the department, prioritizing prevention services to support families and improving accountability.
The department is now recognized state and nationally for its transparency in performance management. Also under her leadership, drastic reductions in the use of residential facilities for youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems puts Philadelphia well below state and national rates which had long been a goal for the department. In addition, during Ms. Figueroa’s tenure, the department’s focus on community-based supports for families combined with operational changes led to 1,000 fewer children in out of home placement. Building on this progress, Kimberly Ali has been named as DHS Commissioner, effective in February. She most recently worked with Ms. Figueroa as Deputy Commissioner for Child Welfare Operations.
Deputy Mayor Figueroa will also establish a Children and Families Cabinet to convene City offices and departments that serve children, working to ensure that policies and resources are aligned to improve outcomes for all Philadelphia children and families, build stronger communities and support great schools in every neighborhood. Children’s Cabinets are an innovative strategy adopted in other cities and states for supporting children and families.
Chief Education Officer Otis Hackney will continue to lead education policy and manage the Administration’s relationship with the Board of Education and the School District of Philadelphia on the Mayor’s behalf. Additionally, Otis Hackney will be charged with leading the Administration’s new education priority to make Community College of Philadelphia more accessible and affordable.
“Cynthia Figueroa was given a truly daunting task when appointed Commissioner of the Department of Human Services in 2016, “ said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Since then she has turned DHS into a national model, and children in Philadelphia are safer and achieving better outcomes because of her leadership and the work of her team. This new position will allow for that work to continue, and for PHLpreK and Community Schools to continue to expand with the support of this new structure.”
Deputy Mayor Cynthia Figueroa, said “All children deserve to grow up safe, healthy, and prepared for life. We must and can do better for kids. I’m energized and committed to working with our partners on our shared priorities of keeping kids safe, building strong families, and supporting great schools.”
To ensure the ongoing success, operational expansion and efficiency of PHLpreK and Community Schools these programs will transition from the Mayor’s Office of Education to the new Office of Children and Families benefiting from the strong administration, contracting and operational expertise of the Department of Human Services.
The Deputy Mayor will report to the Mayor and be a member of his cabinet. A headshot of Deputy Mayor Figueroa is available upon request.