As Commissioner, she has emphasized an integrated and strategic approach to serving children and families in the State. To that end, Dr. Blake has focused on a community-based, family-centered approach to service delivery throughout the work of the entire Department, ensured the inclusion of the parent and youth voice in the Department’s planning and quality improvement work, and fostered a significant expansion of partnerships with the community to help enhance child abuse prevention and family strengthening efforts across the state.
With a vision to promote sustainable growth and identify areas of improvement, as one of her first initiatives, Dr. Blake elevated the status of the Division of Youth and Family Services’ office on adolescents to a Department-level office with an emphasis on more strategic approach to serving youth transitioning to adulthood. By partnering with youth, parents, stakeholders, and service providers, and other state agencies to determine the current strengths of the system and the opportunities for improvement, a formal strategic plan was launched in 2011.Additionally, she has created an internal office focused on performance management and accountability to help the department become a self-correcting, transparent organization.
For nearly 30 years, Dr. Allison Blake has been working on behalf of children and families, and the social workers who serve them. Prior to rejoining state service, she served as the Director of the Institute for Families at the Rutgers School of Social Work, where she oversaw a portfolio of grants and contracts aimed at strengthening families by building the capacity of the individuals and organizations that serve them. She also served as Vice President of Accreditation Operations at the Council on Accreditation (COA), an international organization that develops best practice standards for public and private organizations that provide services across the continuum of care. Her focus while at COA was on helping agencies build their capacity to improve service delivery, which serves as a prelude and foreshadowing to her vision and work as Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families.
Some may view Dr. Blake’s professional career as a cycle with an inevitable “homecoming,” as she spent 18 years at the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services, where she worked in various direct service and administrative positions. She later worked with the team charged with developing a blueprint for improving the capacity of the child welfare system to improve services to the state’s at-risk children and families.
Dr. Blake earned her BS in Social Work from University of Dayton, an MS in Social Work from Rutgers University and a Ph.D. in Social Work from Fordham University.