Allison Blake, the director of the Institute for Families at Rutgers University, Friday was named the new commissioner of the state Department of Children and Families by Gov. Chris Christie.
In appointing Blake, a Raritan Township resident, Christie said in Trenton, "Dr. Blake has a distinguished career as both a professor and public servant and I have no doubt her excellent track record will continue in my administration. She is a strong, experienced leader that will ensure that this key agency will be run effectively and efficiently. I look forward to a swift confirmation by the state Senate."
The Department of Children and Families is the state's child welfare agency and encompasses the Division of Youth and Family Services; Child Behavioral Health Services; Prevention and Community Partnerships; Specialized Education Services; Child Welfare Training Academy; and the Centralized Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline.
The department was created in July 2006 as New Jersey's first cabinet agency devoted exclusively to serving and safeguarding the most vulnerable children and families in the state.
Christie initially named Janet Rosenzweig as DCF commissioner in February but she resigned April 16 when her nomination was delayed in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Blake will need to gain the approval of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full upper house before she would officially be a commissioner.
At the Institute for Families at the Rutgers School of Social Work, Blake oversees a portfolio of over $30 million in grants and contracts aimed at strengthening families by building the capacity of the individuals and organizations that serve them.
Previously, Blake served in several leadership capacities at the Council on Accreditation (COA), an international organization that develops best practice standards for public and private organizations that provide social services North America. While at COA, Blake focused on helping agencies improve service delivery.
Blake spent 18 years at the state Division of Youth and Family Services, where she worked in direct service and administrative positions. She later worked with the team charged with developing a blueprint for improving the capacity of the child welfare system in an effort to help the state's at-risk children and families.
Blake is also a faculty member at the Rutgers School of Social Work where she teaches in the nonprofit and public agency management concentration. She is a regional representative to the National Association of Social Workers' board of directors, and a past president of the organization's New Jersey chapter.
Blake holds a Ph.D. in social work from Fordham University, a masters of science in social work from Rutgers, and a bachelor of science in social work from University of Dayton.