FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky’s new adoption czar spent his first day on the job Monday in a meeting of the House Working Group on Adoption.
Dan Dumas, appointed by Gov. Matt Bevin to lead an overhaul of Kentucky’s adoption and foster care programs, told lawmakers that the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the governor’s office will attack problems from all angles.
“The cabinet is the ground war, performing the details in the weeds,” Dumas said. “I’m working for the governor on the air war; strategy, organizational leadership, working with HHS in Washington, on legislative things that affect us here in Kentucky.”
Health and Family Services Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson told the House panel she’s welcoming the help from Dumas.
“I see this as more hands on deck to try and get this job done, reforming this system,” Yates said.
Dumas said he has already been trying to get immersed in policy and legislation and potential solutions.
One proposal he likes is reducing the amount of initial training for potential foster parents from 32 hours to 15 hours “because that does slow down the process of getting great foster families.”
Dumas said he is expects to propose multiple strategies to improve the system.
“There’s no silver bullet here,” he said. “This is a dark, messy space. We know there are areas we can fix.”
Dumas and his wife have two adopted children. Both adoptions, he said, were “messy.”
“And I think that was part of my adventure and journey that gave such passion for adoption and foster care,” he said.
Dumas he has been given free rein to develop strategies and that he will give Bevin a formal update on his work once a month.
“I don’t think reform is a strong enough word; I think it’s a rethinking of the whole system,” he said.
Dumas is a Navy veteran, author and professor of Christian ministry and leadership at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, and also has prior experience in strategic consulting and leadership coaching.