The Division of Youth Services at the Arkansas Department of Human Services has a new interim director. DHS announced on Tuesday that Betty Guhman, a long-time advisor to Governor Asa Hutchinson, will serve in the role.
She’s worked with Hutchinson since his days in Congress but began her career at DHS in 1973 as a protective service worker. Spokeswoman Amy Webb says Guhman was involved with the division’s inception.
“When the Division of Youth Services was created Betty was actually part of the team that created it and served as a deputy commissioner of that division. She knows the populations that we serve, the providers that we work with and the overall system and what it looks like – in part because she helped design it,” said Webb.
Webb said DHS hasn’t yet embarked on a search for a permanent director, in part because other department heads have been shifting during a transformative time.
“We’re going to be conducting a search for a permanent director, we haven’t really kicked that off yet, but we’ll begin that process very soon,” said Webb. “But right now we’re focused on the interim role and Betty helping us with the review of that division.”
“We’ve been doing a lot,” Webb continued. “We got a new [DHS] director in March [Cindy Gillespie] and we also had our director of the Division of Children and Family Services leave around the same time. We did a 60 day review of the agency and began a reorganization of the largest state agency in Arkansas. We had a lot going on and had not yet started the search. It just took us a little time to get everything worked out like we wanted.”
The division is without a permanent head since late April when Marcus Devine resigned. Keesa Smith has been serving in dual roles since then, directing youth services while serving as deputy director of DHS