Williams Backs His Deputy Mayor; Walker Headed Foster Child Care

Article excerpt

Byline: Amy Doolittle and Robert Redding Jr., THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Growing concerns about the safety of foster children under the supervision of the District's Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) haven't shaken D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams' confidence in his new deputy mayor, who until last week headed the troubled city agency.

Mr. Williams, responding to questions from The Washington Times, defended Deputy Mayor Brenda Donald Walker, the former head of the CFSA - a city bureaucracy facing new scrutiny over the case of a 7-week-old baby injured by one of the agency's foster mothers and another baby suffocated by his foster father.

"If you take the measures in terms of what they set out to do and where they have come, I think she's done a good job," said Mr. Williams, a Democrat.

Mrs. Walker, who replaced Neil Albert as deputy mayor for Children, Youth, Families and Elders, began her job on Monday, less than a week after 7-week-old Rafael was admitted to Children's Hospital Center with several types of bleeding, broken bones, a fractured skull and symptoms of shaken-baby syndrome.

On Tuesday, a 1-month-old D.C. baby died when his Prince George's County foster father, who was in the process of adopting him, rolled on top of him in his sleep.

"These things are horrible as they've happened. One appears to be an accident, the other one obviously is being investigated and people should be held accountable," Mr. Williams said.

Council member Adrian M. Fenty, a Ward 4 Democrat who is running for mayor, predicted that the deputy mayor post would be a better fit for Mrs. Walker.

"She really has training in management, and that was more of a position of subject matter expert," he said. "I think it may end up being a better position for her skills and talents because a deputy mayor position done right should be 100 percent management. It should be making sure people are doing their job and doing it right."

Uma Ahluwalia, the Child and Family Services Agency's interim director, is expected to be nominated by Mr. …