Former state child advocate to serve as New London's Director of Human Services
New London — Mayor Michael Passero on Tuesday announced that Jeanne Milstein, who served as the state’s Child Advocate for more than a decade, will fill the newly created position of Director of Human Services.
Passero said he expects that Milstein will have her hands full from the moment she starts amid a local heroin crisis that has led to numerous overdoses and several deaths.
“I just can’t tell you how pleased I am to bring on this amazing talent,” Passero said. “Jeanne Milstein has been involved her whole life in the business of human services.”
During Milstein’s tenure with the state, the Office of the Child Advocate served as a watchdog agency investigating thousands of citizens' complaints, child deaths and conducting reviews of state-funded programs and facilities.
Upon her retirement in 2012, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called her “an extraordinary public servant who brought tireless commitment, dedication and passion to her work protecting Connecticut's children.”
The city eliminated its social services department in 2005 and Passero said “there isn’t a day that has gone by that the human issues in this city show up in my office and in the lobby.”
“We have no part of this government that is here to manage the human needs in our community. We have a broad group of (nongovernmental organizations) and nonprofits ... and yet our government is not there to facilitate the work that they are doing,” he said.
A mayoral appointment, Milstein is expected to start on Feb. 22 and earn about $100,000 a year without benefits or a contract, Passero said.
Milstein said she owns a home in New London.
“I’m looking forward to having a role improving the lives of our most vulnerable citizens,” Milstein said. “I’m deeply committed to this community.”
She said one of her duties, and perhaps most difficult challenges, will be finding state and federal resources needed to fund new initiatives in collaboration with local agencies.
She said addressing the heroin and opiate addiction is an “absolutely priority,” and intends to work in collaboration with groups like Community Speaks Out, as well as law enforcement, educators, human services providers, clergy and community leaders to take a “multifaceted way of approaching the whole heroin issue.”
Of particular concern for her, she said, is the impact of heroin and opiate addiction on children of addicts.
“I look forward to rolling up my sleeves with all of the community leaders to really come up with concrete proposals to address this public health crisis,” Milstein said.
Among her job duties will be direct oversight of the New London Senior Center.
Passero said he expects her to advocate at the state level for nonprofit providers and incorporate human service initiatives into economic and community development projects.
Milstein retired in 2012 after 12 years as the state child advocate and 28 years overall with the state.
Her past positions included legislative director for the state Commission on Children, director of government and community relations for the Department of Children and Families.
Between 1990 and 1993 served as the executive director of the Women’s Center of Southeastern Connecticut.
After her retirement from the state, she served as the deputy commissioner for strategic planning and policy development for the New York State Office of Children and Family Services with a staff of 38.
Millstein currently is working as a staff researcher for the Tow Youth Justice Institute at the University of New Haven’s Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences.
State Rep. Ernest Hewett, D- New London, who worked with Milstein in the past in Hartford, said “she is the real deal and we’re lucky to have her in the City of New London.”