January 4th, 2011
DENVER Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper announced today Reggie Bicha will be Executive Director of the Department of Human Services.
Bicha was mostly recently Secretary of the Department of Children and Families for the state of Wisconsin. He has dedicated his career to protecting and improving the lives and well-being of children and has extensive experience working on child welfare, education and health issues at the county, state and national levels.
"Reggie Bicha is a nationally-respected authority on human services with an impressive record in child welfare, strengthening families and building communities," Hickenlooper said. "We are delighted he is joining our team. Bicha brings great expertise in working with local government in a state system similar to what we have in Colorado."
Bicha led bold initiatives that restructured, retooled and reprioritized the way that child welfare is done in Wisconsin. His innovative strategies have nationwide implications and will serve as a blueprint to transforming state child welfare systems.
"I am honored to be a part of Gov.-elect Hickenlooper's team," Bicha said. "Human services programs should be effective, reliable and available when you need them most. I look forward to working with all Colorado counties to ensure a strong human services system for everyone in the state."
In November 2007, former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle appointed Bicha as the inaugural Secretary of the new Department of Children and Families, the first cabinet-level state department dedicated solely to improving the well-being of Wisconsin's children and families. He held that job until Monday (Jan. 3), when a new administration took over the Wisconsin Governor's Office.
Before his appointment as Secretary, he served as the Administrator of the Division of Children and Family Services at the Department of Health and Family Services in Wisconsin and also served as DHFS Deputy Secretary. His state service was built upon his experience at a county level, including his position as the Pierce County Director of Human Services.
Wisconsin is a county-operated, state-supervised child welfare system. Bicha has established a strong focus on outcomes and results, ensuring that programs and policies improve the lives of the children and families throughout Wisconsin.
To support this focus, he created KidStat, a performance management initiative that measures and tracks real results for children and families served by the Department of Children and Families and holds the department and its managers accountable to improving outcomes.
The KidStat initiative has led to dramatic results. Children in out-of-home care in the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare (BMCW) have been safely reduced by more than 22 percent in the past two years. This was achieved, in part, by leading efforts that resulted in the highest rates of reunification and adoption exits in the 12 year history of BMCW in 2009. Further, children overstaying in assessment centers (shelter facilities) was a perennial problem for BMCW.
Under Bicha's leadership, and through the KidStat initiative, no child placed in an Assessment Center in 2010 has overstayed. And, children entering foster care in BMCW now are medically evaluated within five days of placement in more than 87 percent of all placements. This is a sharp increase from last year's average of less than 61 percent.
Bicha has also forged an excellent relationship with the Wisconsin State Legislature, and as a result has introduced and passed key legislation that expands transparency to the state's child welfare system, established an Alternative Response program, and enacted the Wisconsin Indian Child Welfare Act.
Bicha (pronounced Beak-a) earned a bachelor's degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a master's degree in the same subject from the University of Minnesota. He is a certified Advanced Practice Social Worker and a Certified Juvenile Court Intake Worker, both in Wisconsin.