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RIC alum, instructor, chosen to head DCYF

Janice E. DeFrances ’75, M ’80, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at RIC and has also taught at the college, has been selected by Gov. Lincoln Chafee to lead the state’s Department of Children, Youth & Families. The appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

“Rhode Island children and families deserve the best advocates and caretakers available, and I believe we have found that in Dr. Janice DeFrances,” Chafee said in a release. “She has dedicated her career to working on the behalf of young people and their families and has the ability and dedication to produce positive, tangible results.”

“I look forward to the opportunity and challenge of providing continued quality care and treatment for our children, youth and families in need,” DeFrances said. “I have a deep commitment to effective research-based practice, to professional development and training for staff, and to collaborating with all stakeholders in a high quality system of care.”

Since 2006, DeFrances has served as president and CEO of Harmony Hill School, Inc. in Chepachet. The school provides clinically informed, specialized programming and services to individuals with social, emotional, behavioral and learning needs in safe campus and community environments.

Previously, DeFrances served as principal of Narragansett Elementary School, administrator of Special Services for the Narragansett School District, and principal of Quidnessett Elementary School in North Kingstown.

She also served on the North Kingstown School Committee for eight years.

In addition to RIC, DeFrances has taught at Providence College, the Rhode Island School of Design, Johnson and Wales University and the University of Rhode Island. Her teaching has focused on child and adolescent development, personal development, mental-health needs of children, special education and family interaction.

DeFrances holds a post-doctorate in neuropsychology from the Fielding Institute; a Doctor of Education in special education/administration from Boston University; a Master of Education in special education/behavior and emotional disorders from RIC; and a Master of Arts in counseling and guidance from the University of Rhode Island.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology/elementary education from RIC.