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Ex-state official chosen as temporary Richmond Human Services head

Posted at 1:05 PM, Dec 22, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-22 13:13:57-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — City leaders announced late Friday that a retired state official has been selected to serve as Richmond’s interim Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human Services.

Richmond Chief Administrative Officer Byron C. Marshall said in a news release emailed at 9:30 p.m. that Stephen Harms begin as deputy chief on Jan. 2, 2013 and serve until a permanent replacement is found.

Dr. Carolyn Graham, the city’s former Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human Services, and the city “reached a mutual agreement” earlier this month that resulted in her leaving her job with the city.

That announcement came after a series of investigative reports into Richmond’s Department of Social Services by CBS 6 reporter Catie Beck. Additionally, Graham was accused of sending a misleading letter to CBS 6.

City officials said Harms’ first priority will be coordinating the reviews of the City of Richmond’s Child Welfare Practices by the Virginia Department of Social Services and the Child Welfare League of America.

That investigation was prompted by a drastic decrease in the number of abuse and neglect petitions filed by the city on behalf of abused children.

“These are just horrific stories,” Councilman Chris Hilbert told CBS 6 News reporter Catie Beck in November.

The stories are about abused children but Hilbert claims just as horrific are the reports he’s received about how their cases being handled by Richmond Department of Social Services (DSS). [CBS 6 INVESTIGATES: Is city program putting Richmond children in danger?]

Harms will oversee the city’s Department of Social Services, Human Services, Libraries and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities.

Mayor Dwight Jones said in a news release that Harms “brings great knowledge and a calming influence to a very important area of our city government.”

Harms most recently served under Gov. Tim Kaine as Deputy Chief of Staff and also as Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Resources. He also served under Gov. Warner and as a Legislative Fiscal Analyst on the staff of the Senate Finance Committee.

Officials said they will start recruiting for a permanent Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human Services on Jan. 2.

Stay with CBS 6 News for the latest on this developing story. Depend on CBS 6 News for exclusive, in-depth investigations you won’t find anywhere else. 

CBS 6 INVESTIGATES: State investigates Richmond’s Department of Social Services 

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