The head of the state’s welfare agency leaves this week, looking back on what he’s done in 16 months, and looking at the future leadership of his department. Social Services Director Gary Sherman was talked into returning to Missouri in April of 2005. He says the department is spending its money wisely and prudently now and has eliminmated millions in fraud and waste. He says the person in charge of the department must be compassionate about people and children…but also has to be passionate about not wasting money. And he says the director has to support his social workers who have to make the most difficult decisions about the futures of children and families. Sherman says a director has to be able to understand the pain social workers often feel. But he says the director also must demand excellence. Sherman has held other jobs with the social services department and he thinks that has helped him understand the people working in the trenches while he has worked with political decision makers. Sherman says he never intended to stay very long. He says he came back to serve his home state…and he hopes people remember him for what he gave back. But he says he will always worry that he didn’t do enough in child welfare….because he knows any mistakes he made could have directly affected the lives and the chance of survival of children. He says he’ll always wonder if he could have done more. A spokesman for Governor Blunt says an interim director will be named. There’s no timetable for picking a permanent replacement.
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