Following a six-month nationwide search process, Brandon T. Nichols has been selected to serve as the new director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors appointed Nichols to the role of director during the June 14 Board meeting, with a start date of July 1. Nichols will lead a workforce of nearly 9,000 staff members in 20 regional offices, providing protective services to more than 29,000 children.
“We are at a pivotal time when it comes to how the largest child welfare system in the country serves families,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis. “Brandon has a proven track record of cutting through red tape for families, working closely with advocates and residents with lived experience, and supporting the Department’s employees.”
“I’m pleased that our Board has quickly filled the top position of one of our most important County departments,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “Director Nichols possesses a combination of boots on the ground experience and executive management skills, along with remarkable compassion and dedication to improving outcomes for our most vulnerable children and youth served by the Department of Children and Family Services.”
Nichols, who had been serving in the role of interim director since April, indicated that his primary areas of focus will be ensuring child safety, advancing race equity efforts, and providing accessible, quality support to families.
“DCFS is charged with keeping children safe and making families strong,” said Nichols, who has a background in child welfare, foster care, adoptions, and mental health. “As Director, I want to help my staff to make the best decisions they can, I want to work with communities to support families where they live, and I want to make sure we are confronting the problems of bias and racial disproportionality that have plagued child welfare programs.”
A Los Angeles County employee for more than 25 years, Nichols has worked for several departments, including DCFS where he previously served as chief deputy director for three years. Nichols began his County career with the Office of the Counsel, where he represented the County in cases involving child abuse and neglect in the juvenile courts. He also has worked for the Probation Department and, most recently, the Chief Executive Office.
In his last position, as the Executive Director of the County’s Jail Closure Implementation Team, Nichols played a significant role in efforts to develop mental health services and other support services for people incarcerated in County jails as part of Los Angeles County’s commitment to decarcerating and closing the Men’s Central Jail.
Nichols holds a bachelor’s degree in Law and Society from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a Juris Doctor Degree from the California Western School of Law in San Diego.
[Information via news release from Los Angeles County.]