Department of Health and Human Services splits into two departments on Friday; Kim Kovol named commissioner

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At the beginning of the new fiscal year on Friday, the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services will become two departments — one devoted to health issues, and one for family and community issues. Kim Kovol has been announced as commissioner of the second department.

The Department of Health will house:

  1. Division of Public Health
  2. Division of Public Assistance
  3. Division of Behavioral Health
  4. Division of Health Care Services
  5. Division of Senior and Disabilities Services

The Department of Family and Community Services will contain:

1. Division of Juvenile Justice
2. Alaska Psychiatric Institute
3. Alaska Pioneer Homes
4. Office of Children’s Services

The split comes as the Dunleavy Administration attempts to reduce the bureaucracy of the state’s largest department, DHSS. Although some in the Alaska Legislature opposed the move, the Legislature failed to block what is essentially an executive office decision. Executive Order 121 (EO 121) became law on March 19 and two departments will be legally operating entities as of July 1.

The Department of Health will have oversight of health care services, payment and public health while the Department of Family and Community Services will focus on supporting our child welfare system and the 24/7 facilities providing direct services to Alaskans, such as Alaska Pioneer Homes and the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, which care for patients and elders.

DHSS Commissioner Adam Crum will be the commissioner for the Department of Health. Koval will be commissioner of DOFCS.

“I selected Ms. Kovol to serve as the first commissioner of the new department because of her dedication and commitment to assisting Alaskan families,” said Gov. Dunleavy. ” She successfully launched my administration’s People First Initiative which integrates services and collaboration between public safety, violent crime prevention and stronger support services for youth in foster care.” 

Kovol moved to Alaska over 26 years ago. She lived a traditional military family life, transferring and moving both internationally and within the Lower 48. She has over 25 years of experience in the private sector in executive leadership, management, operating licensed childcare facilities, organizational development and restructure, logistics, and working in the human and social services realm with youth and adults. She is both passionate and compassionate when addressing the needs of vulnerable populations, as seen through her efforts with various non-profit organizations in Alaska focused on children, hunger, and homelessness. 

Prior to being appointed commissioner, Kovol was Special Assistant to Governor Dunleavy with a social services portfolio focusing on Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons, Human and Sex Trafficking, Homelessness, Foster care, Early Childcare, Eldercare, Opioids / Fentanyl, and Suicide Prevention.

Kovol has a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and studies (K-8 Education) from San Diego State University and a Master of Social Work from University Alaska Anchorage. At every opportunity she has time, you can find her bow hunting (donating 100% of harvested game to local soup kitchens), riding a Harley Davidson with her beloved dog, and “mom-ing” to three Alaskan born and raised children, ages 22, 21, and 18.

4 COMMENTS

  1. The state of Alaska has been disenfranchised again by Dumb Dunleavy…. A new governor can fix a bad problem. etting the whole departs and people is what needs to be done and a new governor to ensure that it is done. What you put in with an executive order, you can take out!!!

  2. Department of Health prioritizes public health over everything else. Why? Are we expecting new pestilence(s) coming our way from the Ukraine? We have a small population. Over half AK population is controlled by one city by careful though uniquely selfish design(s). There is the Anchorage health department, an international air crossroads monarch of pestilence control over one half of the Alaskan population in place already; then, imperceptibly the rest of Alaska (and never the twain shall meet due to the oversight of forgetting to build infrastructure anywhere in democratville) the rest of Alaska otherwise known in the lair of Juneau as ” Who cares about them” euphemistically speaking “Mr. Speaker”. These “governmental” arrangements so far are pleasing to the privileged with extra pull and a bunch of unmentionable extra privileges to maintain. These governence policies were never ennunciated in polite company. Of course, there is little “polite company” 🙄 in AK in any case, soooo….(fill in the blank) to answer my question. Why?

  3. One more aside: the public policies arrangements spoken of above precede this governor who had to tweak his administrative details to accommodate the unexpected health menagerie. So, I do so hope such items recede in the rear view mirror of time going forward instead of impeding our views of the future per se.

  4. Governor D – I want to have hope this is going to improve The State of Alaska’s true epidemic of horrible protection and care to the vulnerable children of Alaska, but the you failed on July 1 already.

    On the website: https://dfcs.alaska.gov none of the links work! How can the public become knowledgeable on how this is going to fix the biggest broken system in state government?

    I hate to ask the question, but the state added just another layer of high paying commissioners to this already majorly dysfunctional organization of The Office of Children’s Services? July 1, opening day, the public can’t even access the organizational chart to see who’s in charge of what in this big plan!

    Gads! How hard would’ve it been for one of the umpteen people who worked on the reorganization to double check the website before launch day? God help the abused and neglected children of our state and the brave, unappreciated foster parents that rely on this money sucking agency of state government.

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