Providence, RI – Governor Lincoln D. Chafee announced today his choice of Janice E. DeFrances, Ed.D, to serve as Director of the Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF).
“Rhode Island children and families deserve the best advocates and caretakers available, and I believe we have found that in Dr. Janice DeFrances,” Governor Chafee said. “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 am honored by this appointment from the Governor,” Dr. DeFrances said. “I look forward to the opportunity and challenge of providing continued quality care and treatment for our children, youth and families in need. 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, Dr. DeFrances has served as President & CEO of Harmony Hill School, Inc. in Chepachet, Rhode Island. Harmony Hill provides clinically informed specialized programming and services to individuals with social, emotional, behavioral, and learning needs in safe campus and community environments. As President & CEO, Dr. DeFrances has been in charge of all day-to-day operations, strategic planning, and program development, and has overseen the school’s 156 staff members and a $9 million annual budget. She also serves as the school’s liaison to local, state, and federal government.
Prior to her position at Harmony Hill, Dr. DeFrances served as Principal of Narragansett Elementary School for ten years, as the Administrator of Special Services for the Narragansett School District, and as the Principal of Quidnessett Elementary School in North Kingstown. She also served for eight years on the North Kingstown School Committee.
Dr. DeFrances has taught at Providence College, the Rhode Island School of Design, Johnson and Wales University, the University of Rhode Island, and Rhode Island College, where her teaching focus has included child and adolescent development, personal development, mental health needs of children, special education, and family interaction.
Dr. DeFrances has been a member of numerous professional organizations, including Brown University’s Principals Learning Network, the Association of Rhode Island Administrators in Special Education, the Council for Exceptional Children, the National Staff Development Council, the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development, the International Reading Association, the National School Leadership Network, the International Neurological Society, the Brain and Learning Network, the National Association of Elementary School Principles, the Rhode Island Association of Elementary School Principals, and the Annenberg Principals/National School Reform faculty.
Dr. DeFrances holds numerous advanced degrees, including: 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 Rhode Island College; and a Master of Arts in Counseling and Guidance from the University of Rhode Island. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology/Elementary Education from Rhode Island College.