Arizona State Senator Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) sent a letter to Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) Thursday, urging her to reinstate former Department of Child Safety leader Mike Faust as the department is in need of a new leader.
“There are few executive agencies in Arizona as important as the Department of Child Safety,” Hoffman wrote. “Ensuring appropriate, experienced, and well-vetted leadership running the agency that seeks to protect the most vulnerable children in our society should be of utmost concern to us all.”
"The Department of Child Safety and our state's most vulnerable children deserve nothing less than proven experience to be expeditiously returned to that agency." pic.twitter.com/6pyeRx2il0
— AZSenateRepublicans (@AZSenateGOP) March 2, 2023
The Arizona Sun Times contacted the governor’s office for additional comments but did not hear back before publishing time.
Hoffman is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Director Nominations (CDN), which is responsible for interviewing and making recommendations on Hobbs’s choices to lead state departments. He shared that the committee received a letter requesting Faust be reinstated.
This letter, shared with The Sun Times by the Senate Majority Caucus, was signed by the AZ Group Home Coalition (AGHC), representing 18 different agencies. The AGHC stated that the list of groups “brings well over 200 years of child welfare experience to Arizona,” and as such, some have worked closely with DCS over the past several years. Moreover, because of the extensive time working with DSC across multiple directors, they claimed their support for Faust is “unbiased.”
The group described some of Faust’s admirable leadership qualities, including his “data-driven” decision-making, strong follow-through, and dedication to “the mission of protecting children.”
“We share a mutual and tremendous respect for the past performance of former Director Faust, and appreciate his rigor in holding all our agencies accountable when needed,” the AGHC wrote. “We understand that decisions such as these are difficult and require significant vetting for a suitable candidate. For these reasons, we felt compelled to offer you our humble assessment of the past 8 years under the leadership of Mike Faust at DCS.”
Furthermore, Hoffman shared in his letter that he spoke with Faust after receiving the AGHC letter. Despite being released from the role by the Hobbs administration, Hoffman said Faust is willing to discuss returning to his previous with Hobbs.
“As the chairman of the Committee of Director Nominations, I commit to a swift confirmation process, should Mr. Faust be nominated to return in his role as the agency’s Director,” Hoffman wrote.
Faust first took the director role in 2019 after being appointed by former Governor Doug Ducey (R). Before becoming director, Faust was the deputy director of Support Services at DCS.
As reported by The Sun Times, the DCS is experiencing a gap in leadership because Hobbs’s previous choice to lead, Matthew Stewart, was recently asked to resign. Hobbs touted Stewart as her choice to lead because of his devotion to the mission of helping children.
However, Stewart only served a few weeks before leaving the office. While Hobbs has only stated the decision was made “in the best interest of all parties involved,” Hoffman shared that Stewart made questionable decisions as the director.
Currently, former Department of Economic Security Director Michael Wisehart is serving as the interim director. Hobbs has yet to indicate who she will nominate as a permanent replacement.
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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Jake Hoffman” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0. Photo “Mike Faust” by Mike Faust. Background Photo “Arizona State Capitol” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.