Gov. Reynolds Names New Head of Iowa DHS

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Jerry Foxhoven (WHO-HD)

DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds has announced her pick to lead the Iowa Department of Human Services when Chuck Palmer retires at the end of the week.

Reynolds has chosen child protection advocate and Drake University Law School professor Jerry Foxhoven to be the director of DHS.

“Jerry Foxhoven is the compassionate, thoughtful leader we need serving in this important role,” Gov. Reynolds said. “DHS is on the front lines, working in all Iowa’s communities to ensure our state’s families are able to access the service and protection they expect and deserve. Jerry has the experience, qualification, respect and passion to excel in this demanding role.”

The appointment comes after Palmer announced he would retire in the wake of two high-profile cases involving the deaths of teens who had been adopted from foster care and died after allegedly being abused and starved by their adoptive parents.

Palmer has faced harsh criticism and calls from some Iowa lawmakers to resign in light of the cases of Natalie Finn and Sabrina Ray. The cases, though separate, are eerily similar. The adoptive parents of each teen are facing charges related to the teens’ deaths and other adoptive siblings that were in their homes at the time of their deaths.

Sabrina Ray weighed just 56 pounds at the time of her death earlier this month in Perry. Autopsy results showed signs of “severe malnourishment.”

Natalie Finn was found lying on the floor in a bare room unresponsive and not breathing in October of 2016.  She was also wearing an adult diaper and appeared to have been in her own waste for quote, “some time.”

Palmer’s last day at the DHS is Friday. Foxhoven begins his work for the department on Thursday.

Read the news release announcing Foxhoven’s appointment here.