County Executive Robert P. Astorino today named a new commissioner of Social Services, selecting a person with almost three decades of bottom-to-top professional experience in health and human services to oversee the county’s largest department.
Kevin M. McGuire, a one-time New York City social services caseworker who up until this week was executive director of the Maryland Department of Human Resources Family Investment Administration, was selected following a nationwide search. He will begin his new job next week.
“Kevin McGuire is a professional with a successful history of managing the many complexities of a large social services organization,” Astorino said. “He knows how to deliver crucial safety net programs to residents, navigate constantly changing state and federal regulations and ensure that tax dollars are spent wisely.”
DSS has a budget for 2011 of about $575 million, approximately 33 percent of the gross operating budget for the county. The department administers a variety of state and federal programs designed to give temporary assistance to individuals and families in need in areas that include housing, food stamps, medical assistance, child support and job training. (See www.westchestergov.com/socialservices)
Having grown up, gone to school and spent the better part of his career in New York, McGuire said he was delighted and excited to come to work for Westchester County.
“The responsibilities of the job are enormous, especially in the tough economic environment,” he said. “At the same time, we have new opportunities to think of different ways we can assist the most vulnerable and needy of our fellow citizens. The goal is to move individuals and families toward self-sufficiency.”
McGuire succeeds Dr. Grant Mitchell, the county’s commissioner of Community Mental Health who took on the added role of acting commissioner of Social Services in July upon the retirement of Kevin Mahon.
“Grant Mitchell did a terrific job managing the department as acting DSS commissioner,” said Astorino. “Thanks to his calm and steady management style, DSS is well-positioned for the coming year. Grant was particularly instrumental in finding ways to put an extra $6 million of services directly into the hands of residents next year without raising the budget.”
Mitchell called his tenure as acting commissioner “challenging,” adding, “I am grateful for having had the opportunity to work with the dedicated and caring staff at DSS. I welcome the new commissioner and look forward to collaborating with him during the transition and in the future."
Mitchell and McGuire will work closely on a transition over the next several weeks.
In his position with the Maryland Department of Human Resources (2003-present), McGuire was responsible for the administration of all public assistance programs, including those dealing with welfare-to-work, food stamps, child care and medical assistance.
His accomplishments include:
• An increase of 20 percent in job placements of public assistance recipients
• An increase to 40 percent, from 6 percent, in the work participation rates of those receiving help from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program
• Receipt by Maryland of numerous federal grants for a variety of programs, including those relating to food stamps and technology
• Receipt by the state of almost $50 million in TANF and food stamp high performance bonuses
• A department citation from the U.S.D.A. Food and Nutrition Service for exemplary service for the quick response to the needs of Maryland residents during Hurricane Isabel in 2003
• Emergency response efforts during several national disasters, including the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City and relief efforts after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
McGuire began his career in the human services field in 1981 as a caseworker in the South Bronx for the New York City Human Resources Administration. He stayed with the department until 2003 in a variety of positions that focused on programs as well as data processing and technology. From 1998-2003, he served as the Bronx deputy regional manager, where he was part of the team that planned and implemented New York City’s successful welfare reform efforts.
Concurrent with his position with Maryland, McGuire has served on numerous committees and councils. These include the Maryland Medicaid Advisory Committee, the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board, the State Substance Abuse Advisory Council and the Maryland Child Care Subsidy Coordinating Council.
McGuire noted that he has great passion for his work and has worked hard to earn the respect and admiration of people from both sides of the aisle in local, state and national governments as well as from various foundations, think tanks and advocacy groups.
McGuire was issued governor's commendations from two successive Maryland governors (of different political parties) for exemplary work: Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. (for the 2006 repatriation efforts of US citizens from Lebanon) and Martin J. O'Malley (for excellent customer service). In 2002, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented him with the Isaac Leiberman Public Service Award by the Hundred Year Association of New York, mostly for his welfare reform and 9/11 recovery efforts.
He is also a member of numerous professional organizations, including the American Public Human Services Association (where he was recently elected president), the National Association for Welfare Research and Statistics and the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.