Director of DCYF resigns after seven months in the role

By MICHAELA TOWFIGHI

Monitor staff

Published: 04-12-2024 12:07 PM

After seven months leading the Division of Children, Youth and Families, Jeff Fleischer has resigned from his post as director.

Flesicher began in the role in August after coming out of retirement to lead the state agency. He previously served as the chief executive officer of the Youth Advocate Program, a nonprofit that worked on alternative solutions to incarceration for youth in 33 states, including New Hampshire. 

When Fleischer first took the job in New Hampshire, he inherited a department that had undergone a series of reforms by former director Joe Ribsam. Under Ribsam’s leadership, the state introduced a behavioral health bureau for children, transformed probation rules and worked to better connect youth to support services at home through programs like FAST Forward. The number of youth detained at the state’s only youth detention site, the Sununu Youth Services Center, also hit record lows. 

Fleischer’s goal, and challenge, was to maintain this momentum and continue to build a system that focused on community support and resources, rather than separating families, he said in an interview with the Monitor in August. 

The future of the Sununu Youth Service Center also lingered in the background of Fleishcer’s transition into the role. The center was set to close by March 2024 to make way for a smaller facility. While advocates acknowledged that the smaller facility would allow for a more therapeutic, home-like setting for kids, and help encourage alternative solutions for youth who did not need to be housed there, many feared that plans for the next facility were not yet properly in place. 

Gov. Chris Sununu agreed with concerns and signed a stopgap bill to delay the center’s closure to Nov. 1, 2024 until a new facility is opened. No firm plans are currently in place for this new building. 

The Department of Health and Human Services, which accepted Fleischer’s resignation on Thursday, declined an interview request. Fleischer is “leaving to pursue other interests closer to family out of state,” they said in a statement.  

“As Director, he was focused on developing community alternatives to out-of-home placements. This has helped DCYF to strengthen its service array and think in new ways about supporting the families we serve,” the statement read.

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An interim director was not named.