Georgia DFCS Director Resigns;  Lengthy-term deputy to the governor is an interim substitute

He was appointed by the then government on an interim basis. Nathan Deal in July 2018 and was named permanent head of Kemp in February 2019. Previously, he was director of the Office of Child Advocate under Deal.

“I have had the privilege of working with Governor Deal and Governor Kemp and a very passionate front line staff,” he said. “It was a very stressful job and it was time for me to go.”

Melissa Carter, the director of the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory, who works often with DFCS, said the agency’s staff she spoke to were concerned about the transition.

“Leadership transitions inherently create a lot of uncertainty and instability,” Carter said. “The workforce generally doesn’t know Candice, which means most people are currently distracted and speculating about where they are heading. This can lead to a distraction from work. “


State Representative Mary Margaret Oliver, a Decatur Democrat and longtime child protection advocate, said she believed Rawlings’ departure will harm “tens of thousands of Georgia’s weakest children.” She said an argument with a film crew should not have resulted in his departure.

“Our clerks have the toughest job in government and Tom gave them what they needed,” she said.

The task of running the agency with more than 8,000 employees is one of the most difficult in the state government and has been occupied by a revolving door of civil servants since the 1990s. Some resigned under agency supervision due to the aftermath of child deaths.

Rawlings’ roughly three-year tenure also included backlash over the deaths of two children in South Georgia who had extensive experience with the agency.

He also struggled with budget cuts, a surge in demand for the grocery stamp program, and a pandemic that led to an increase in cases of abuse and neglect.

The agency plays an important role in Kemp’s plan to expand the Medicaid program without considering full expansion. Under a government contract, DFCS determines who is eligible for Medicaid benefits and would be critical to a new waiver proposal Kemp is pushing.

Rawlings said he hopes his record with the agency improves the “culture and environment” of the bureaucracy.

“I’ve worked to stabilize the agency and build partnerships with the community,” he said. “I am proud of my work.”