George Sheldon Leaving, Bill Bentley Joining Obama Administration in October

The shakeup at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) continues, with top officials departing as the administration appoints leaders in child welfare advocacy to lead niche divisions of the agency.

ACF Acting Secretary George Sheldon will resign in mid-October, The Chronicle of Social Change has learned. Sheldon, a career politician, led the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) from 2008 until 2011, where he presided over a steady decline in the ratio of dollars spent on out-of-home care by DCF, while the overall number of children involved in child welfare cases dropped nearly 30 percent.

Sheldon also received national recognition for the state’s assistance to refugees and families following the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti. There has been speculation that Sheldon may run against Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2014.

ACF Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Mark Greenberg will replace Sheldon as acting head of the agency, according to ACF spokesman Kenneth Wolfe.

Before joining HHS, he directed the Georgetown University Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy, a joint initiative of the Georgetown University Law Center and the Georgetown Public Policy Institute.  He was a senior fellow at both the Center for American Progress and the Center for Law and Social Policy.

Sheldon was never actually confirmed to his post by the U.S. Senate. The only person to receive Senate confirmation to lead ACF was Carmen Nazario, whose tenure lasted less than a year as she departed to care for her ailing husband.

Sheldon’s departure follows quickly after that of his former subordinate, Bryan Samuels, who left the administration this month to take that helm at University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall Center for Children. Samuels was commissioner of the Administration for Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF), which is oddly enough a division within the Administration for Children and Families.

Meanwhile, the administration has appointed former Voices for America’s Children CEO Bill Bentley to serve as associate commissioner of the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB). Bentley takes over a division within ACYF that makes discretionary grants aimed at runaway and homeless youth, family violence prevention and pregnancy prevention.

Bentley, who replaces Acting Associate Commissioner Debbie Powell, is the second prominent leader tapped this month to lead an ACYF division. Jooyeun Chang, the former director of policy for Casey Family Programs, was recently appointed to lead the Children’s Bureau.

Bentley led Voices for America’s Children, an advocacy and policy shop with affiliates in most states, from 2007 until this year. He spent the seven years before that as chief operating officer of the Points of Light Foundation, and before that served as a department head the early days of AmeriCorps parent agency the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Sarah Hunter, a special assistant at ACF, has moved to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Wolfe said.

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John Kelly
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John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.