"It's no secret our Administration inherited many challenges with our child welfare services, and it's clear our kids deserve better," Raimondo said. "A strong child advocate's office with independent accountability helps make sure we are all focused on our top priority: protecting kids and strengthening families. Jennifer brings enthusiasm and a new perspective to this role."
"I am excited and honored by this nomination," Griffith said. "I plan to fulfill the role of Child Advocate with a pragmatic, hands-on approach that values communication and problem solving, while always being guided by what is in the best interest of the children of Rhode Island."
The Governor was committed to recruiting top talent for the role of Child Advocate. She was assisted by a search committee that helped select top candidates for the position, including Griffith. The committee, which was formed last fall, included members appointed by the Rhode Island Medical Society, the Chief Judge of the Rhode Island Family Court, the Director of the Department of Human Services, the Rhode Island Bar Association, the Rhode Island Alliance of Social Service Employees, and the Rhode Island Psychological Association. They held four public meetings.
Jennifer Griffith is a Family Law Center Staff Attorney at Rhode Island Legal Services, Inc., where she represents clients in divorces, custody cases, restraining orders, child support motions, Family Treatment Drug Court and abuse/neglect/dependency petitions filed by the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). She previously worked as a Staff Attorney specializing in family law at South Middlesex Legal Services. Griffith holds a bachelor of arts in sociology from the College of the Holy Cross and a law degree from the Roger Williams University School of Law. She was admitted to the Rhode Island Bar to practice law in 2005.
Griffith will replace Regina M. Costa, Esq., whose term as Child Advocate will expire at the end of March.
"I also want to thank Regina for her service, and for working to improve child welfare in our state. I wish her the very best," Raimondo continued.
The Child Advocate is charged with securing and ensuring the legal, civil, and special rights of children throughout the state. Some of the office's responsibilities include periodically reviewing procedures established by DCYF in regard to children's rights, recommending changes in the procedures for dealing with juvenile problems and in the systems for providing childcare and treatment and providing training and technical assistance to guardians ad litem and special advocates appointed by the Family Court to represent children.