On February 12, President Obama nominated Maria Cancian, to be the Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Dr. Cancian is a professor and university administrator at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW). Her work includes extensive research in welfare and social policy including the interaction and relationship between factors such as employment, child support, fertility, differences in marriage patterns and human service programs including welfare, child welfare and child support. She has served as Associate Dean for Fiscal Initiatives at UW’s College of Letters and Science since 2012, and Associate Dean for Social Sciences since 2011. Dr. Cancian was a W.T. Grant Distinguished Fellow, and from 2004 to 2008, was the Director of UW’s Institute for Research on Poverty.
ACF has jurisdiction over eighteen offices that cover most of the services that are outside of health care and research including child welfare, welfare, child care, Head Start, Refugee Assistance, Native American Services and community services. The position requires Senate confirmation starting with the Senate Finance Committee.
The last time the position was filled by a confirmed Assistant Secretary was in September of 2009 when President Obama appointed Carmen Nazario. Assistant Secretary Nazario served until the follow summer when she had to leave the position due to family issues. Since that point the roll has been filled by acting assistant secretaries with Mark Greenberg currently serving as the Acting Assistant Secretary.