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Janie Huddleston

National Director, Safe Babies and Early Childhood Systems

Janie Huddleston brings over 30 years of experience and expertise in education, child welfare, Medicaid, mental health, early learning and system change as the National Director of Safe Babies and Early Childhood Systems. In this role, she leads states, sites and communities to build coordinated and aligned early childhood systems to support families during their children’s most crucial years of development. Under her guidance, Safe Babies supports states and sites in implementing the Safe Babies approach, building knowledge of effective, collaborative court team interventions that drive transformation in child welfare for infants, toddlers, and families.

Similarly, Janie oversees the Early Childhood Developmental Health Systems (ECDHS): Evidence to Impact Center to amplify the implementation and evaluation of evidence-informed, equity-focused and family-centered early childhood systems across states and communities. Both programs are committed to integrating high-quality services into early childhood systems, spanning healthcare, early care and education, child welfare, and social services. This integration aims to strengthen families and nurture the critical development of children.

Before this role she worked for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, in various positions including the Director of the Division of Early Care and Education, Director of the Division of Children and Family Services, Director of the Division of Behavioral Health Services and Deputy Director for the Department. There were several major milestones accomplished during her time at the department, including working with the Legislature and other key stakeholder groups to secure $120 million dollars for Pre-K education, working with Medicaid and key providers to develop a new payment process that included Episodes of Care, leading the effort to completely revise the Medicaid Mental Health Program in Arkansas that included reimbursement codes for infant mental health services for the first time, leading the effort to recertify the State Hospital with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working with Medicaid and key stakeholders to create a new program for pregnant women and juveniles who had substance abuse addiction disorders and leading the Child Welfare System Reform in the State after four children died in foster care. She was also the Legislative Coordinator for the Department and led the efforts during the sessions to pass necessary legislation.

Janie earned her Bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Henderson University and her Masters of Science degree in Biology and Elementary Administration from the University of Arkansas. Janie recently completed the Certificate Program in Implementation Practice through the UNC School of Social Work. She has been recognized for her advocacy efforts for children by the Child Welfare League of America and other state organizations. After working at the Department of Human Services, she decided to focus her career on promoting the health and development of infants and toddlers. Janie truly believes that when agencies understand the power of collaboration everyone, including the families they serve, has a greater chance of success!