NASHVILLE -- Gov. Bill Haslam announced Tuesday that head of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services has resigned from her post, following recent allegations employees mishandled cases involving minors.
Commissioner Kate O’Day submitted her resignition only a few days after facing intense scrutiny of how the agency has handled cases of children who were investigated as possible victims of abuse and neglect, some of who later died.
“Kate has informed me that she felt the time was right to step down,” Haslam said. “She was concerned that she had become more of a focus than the children the department serves. I appreciate Kate’s service to this administration and to our state. She has done a lot of good work in identifying longstanding problems that have hampered the department, and we will build on those efforts as we move forward.”
O’Day joined the Haslam administration in January 2011.
Prior to her tenure, she served as president and chief executive officer of the Child and Family Tennessee in Knoxville. She began her career as a youth counselor with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office in Florida and later served as vice president of program development and evaluation for the Children’s Home Society of Florida and director of program services for Covenant House of Florida.
Haslam has named Commissioner Jim Henry, who currently heads up the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, to serve as interim commissioner of the department.
“I am grateful to Jim for agreeing to take on this interim role,” Haslam continued. “He has significant experience both in the private and public sectors and has devoted the better part of his life to caring for some of our most vulnerable citizens.”
Henry is the first commissioner of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Department, which was formerly a division of the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration before becoming a state department on Jan. 15, 2011.
Before joining the Haslam administration, Henry served as president and chief executive officer of Omni Visions, Inc., a company serving adults with developmental disabilities and children and families in crisis. A Vietnam War veteran and former mayor of Kingston, Henry spent 12 years as a state representative and six of those years as minority leader in the Tennessee General Assembly.
Henry will continue to serve as commissioner during his interim role, while the governor begins a search for a new commissioner of the Department of Children's Services.