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Kyle L. Janek, M.D.
Executive Commissioner

Date: Nov. 13, 2012
Contact: Stephanie Goodman, 512-424-6951

Judge Specia Appointed DFPS Commissioner

Judge SpeciaAUSTIN – Senior district judge John J. Specia, Jr., a founding member and jurist in residence for the Supreme Court Children’s Commission, has been named the next commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services.

“Judge Specia has a long legacy of protecting children and pushing for improvement in our programs,” said Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek, M.D. “He’s known as a problem solver, and we’re thrilled that he’s bringing that expertise and commitment to DFPS.”

Specia has extensive experience in policy issues involving children and families. He established the Bexar County Children’s Court with specialized services for children and the Family Drug Treatment Court, which has become a model for the state. Specia was vice-chair of the Supreme Court’s Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families and chair of the Supreme Court Task Force on Foster Care. Specia was among the state’s first child welfare attorneys, serving as a regional attorney for the former Texas Department of Human Services from 1980-1985.

“I’m honored by the appointment, excited by the possibilities and deeply aware of how high the stakes are for those touched by this agency,” Specia said. “My first priority is the 28,000 children in foster care and all the others who rely on us for their protection and well-being. The agency’s mission is to protect the unprotected, and my job will be to make sure our employees have the skills and tools they need to fulfill that mission.”

Earlier this year, Specia was honored with the 2012 Infant Mental Health Advocacy Award, and he received the 2011 Lone Star Award for his work in substance abuse prevention and treatment. He is a past recipient of the Dale Wood Award for outstanding protection of children by the judiciary and was named “Judge of the Year” by Texas CASA.

Specia served as judge of the 225th District Court in Bexar County for almost two decades before his retirement in 2006 and is now a senior district judge subject to assignment. Before his appointment to the district court, he was master for the 289th Family and Juvenile District Court in Bexar County. He is a graduate of the University of Texas and St. Mary’s School of Law.

The Department of Family and Protective Services is responsible for child and adult protective services and child care licensing in Texas. The agency has 11,000 employees and an annual budget of $1.4 billion.

Specia’s appointment was made with the approval of Gov. Rick Perry and is effective Dec. 1.