DCBS Deputy Commissioner Elizabeth Caywood
Deputy Commissioner Elizabeth Caywood has served the department since 1999. Most recently, she served as acting commissioner, chief of staff, internal policy analyst IV and executive advisor.
Caywood is a specialist in child welfare and family services. Her experience spans every public assistance, child care and social service program administered by the department, including regulation of various provider types and special projects. She is a member of the CHFS Institutional Review Board and has past experience as the chair of the Cabinet Appeal Board for Public Assistance, member of the secretary’s legislative team and lead Cabinet staffer for the 2009-2011 Governor’s Task Force on Early Childhood Development and Education.
Over the course her 20-year career at DCBS, Caywood has been instrumental in eliminating regulatory and statutory red tape, enhancing child protective services and appeals policies and affecting the state’s compliance with the federal mandate for comprehensive background checks of child care providers. She helped realize the passage of child welfare legislation from the last three regular sessions, including legislation concerning normalcy for foster children, foster youth driver’s licensing, fictive kin as an out-of-home care placement option and House Bill 1, the comprehensive child welfare legislation from the 2018 regular session.
Caywood has been an adjunct professor and guest speaker for the University of Kentucky’s College of Social Work. She previously served in Fayette County as a community developer, urban-county government eligibility counselor and felony court victim advocate. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from UK and has maintained social work certification in the Commonwealth of Kentucky since 1999.
DCBS Chief of Staff Lesa Dennis
Lesa Dennis was appointed DCBS chief of staff in July 2018. She provides coordination of and direct support to the commissioner on strategic and critical projects. Most recently, she served as DCBS director of service regions and was responsible for supervision and support of the department’s nine regions, including policy development and implementation and budget compliance.