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Testimony of the Nominee for Commissioner of Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, Patricia Montoya
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Before the Senate Finance Committee
September 24, 1998

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.

My name is Patricia Montoya. Thank you for the invitation to be here today. It is truly an honor for me to appear before you as President Clinton's nominee to be Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services. I also want to express my gratitude to Senators Domenici and Bingaman for their support of my nomination.

If confirmed, I will have the special honor of directing vital programs that relate to child care, foster care, adoption, child development, early childhood education, and youth development. I look forward to working with you, Mr. Chairman, and other members of the committee on issues that relate, in particular, to child care, foster care and adoption. At this time, I also would like to thank the Committee for its leadership and support in the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. If confirmed, I look forward to working with you on the continued implementation of this legislation.

As you know, Mr. Chairman, the Administration for Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF) plays a critical role in improving the lives of Americans. ACYF administers the major Federal programs whose missions are to assist vulnerable children and youth. These programs provide financial assistance to states and to a wide range of community organizations for such integral programs as Head Start, child care, foster care and adoption assistance and support for runaway and homeless youth. The Administration for Children, Youth and Families also supports research and demonstration activities, and undertakes training, technical assistance, and information dissemination. However, most significantly, the Administration for Children, Youth and Families brings together a range of programs that invest early in children's lives to promote their health and well being later on. A primary focus of ACYF is the protection and healthy development of children and families.

If confirmed, I will bring to ACYF a broad range of experience that I know has prepared me for this challenge and this wonderful opportunity. I believe that my background reflects my lifelong commitment to children's health, social service needs and the needs of families. I am a Registered Nurse who began my career working with children in the area of pediatrics, and then went on to working with children and families in the area of school health. These were some of the most rewarding days of my career, while at the same time some of my most challenging.

While I was given the opportunity to get to know the best and brightest of our young people as they moved through their schooling, I also got to know many of the issues and challenges that these young people and their families faced every day, often with few or no resources.

While working in the community I came to understand the impact and significance that public policy has on people's lives and the importance of being involved. It was at this time in my career that I committed myself to being an advocate for those who had no one speaking out for them. Therefore, I welcome the opportunity and the challenge to be a spokesperson for the Administration on issues that are vital to our children and families.

My experience as a nurse has been varied, from staff nursing, to school health, working in home health, to running a private not-for-profit agency, and running a health care center. I have worked as staff both in the private and public sector, as well as a manager, and this has given me a helpful perspective from which to draw. It has provided me the opportunity to work with people in different age groups. Most importantly, however, it has provided me the opportunity to work with families and individuals comprehensively, looking at the total person, the total family, and their needs.

In 1994, I was appointed as the Regional Director for Health and Human Services in Dallas. Being in this position has provided me with the opportunity to gain the federal perspective and get to know many of the programs in ACYF which I will oversee. That insight will assist me tremendously as I undertake the role of Commissioner, if confirmed.

ACYF's mission is central to the Administration's agenda for investing in people to improve their lives. The President, Secretary Shalala, and Assistant Secretary Golden are committed to increasing the number of children including infants and toddlers, participating in Head Start, while ensuring the quality of Head Start centers. If confirmed, I look forward to leading Head Start toward the fulfillment of those important goals.

The Administration is equally committed to moving children more quickly from foster care to permanent homes. If confirmed, I look forward to leading the Administration's efforts to double the number of adoptions of vulnerable children as directed by the President.

Finally, this Administration is committed to improving the availability and quality of child care. If confirmed, I look forward to working with this committee and others to expand the availability and quality of child care for working parents so that no one will have to make a choice between a child and a job.

Since this position is all about children and families, Mr. Chairman, I would be remiss if I did not say if confirmed that I would dedicate my tenure to the honor of my own parents, Ramona and Max Montoya, who have passed on but who have made me who I am.

Mr. Chairman, if confirmed, I look forward to working closely with you, the members of this Committee, and the Congress to make a difference for children and families in America. Thank you very much. I would be pleased to answer any questions that you may have.

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