Gov. Charlie Baker has appointed social service veteran Maria Mossaides as the state's next child advocate, an independent position that monitors services provided to children in Massachusetts.
Mossaides, who since 2008 has served as the executive director of Cambridge Family and Children’s Service, will succeed Gail Garinger, who has held the post since it was created in 2008.
“For me to work on a statewide basis to make sure that all children have the opportunity to thrive, I can’t think of a better job," Mossaides said in a statement released by the governor's office.
Garinger, meanwhile, was named Thursday by Attorney General Maura Healey to head her office's new Child and Youth Protection Unit.
Baker says Mossaides has the right mix of past experience and intelligence to do the job well.
"Somebody who can hit the ground running — and she can certainly do that — and who has enough boots-on-the-ground experience to make the kind of recommendations that people like us would be able to use, and pretty aggressively, in the short term," Baker told reporters Thursday.
Mossaides will step into her new role at a crucial time. The state has been under scrutiny following several high-profile cases involving families under the care or supervision of the Department of Children and Families, including the August death of a 2-year-old in foster care.
A report released Wednesday by the outgoing Garinger found that overwhelming caseloads and ineffective management practices at DCF have set up social workers to fail.
Those findings come on the heels of an internal DCF report, released Friday, that found the agency failed to protect a 7-year-old boy from Hardwick who in July fell into a coma after police say he was beaten and starved by his father.
Garinger's last day is Friday. Mossaides will begin Oct. 13.
In the interim, Baker has appointed former Department of Social Services chief Linda Carlisle to serve as acting child advocate.
With reporting by the WBUR Newsroom and The Associated Press