DCYF Director to step down following scathing report into child’s death

DCYF Director Trista Piccola who oversees the state Training School talks with reporters in this file photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By WPRO News

The Director of the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families Trista Piccola said Wednesday that she will step down after 2 1/2 years at the head of the troubled child welfare agency, one month after a scathing report into DCYF lapses preceding the death in January of a nine-year old Warwick girl.

A statement from DCYF said that Piccola would relocate to Arizona with her husband, who has accepted a new position there. She will remain at the head of DCYF pending a search for a new director.

Governor Gina Raimondo issued a statement saying that she was grateful for Piccola’s public service to children and families.

“Under her leadership, DCYF has worked hard to reduce the number of foster children living in congregate care, recruit loving foster families, and keep kids in their home communities whenever possible. Trista has laid a strong foundation that will enable us to build on our progress in the years ahead,” Raimondo’s statement said.

In the case of Zha-Nae Rothgeb, 9, the state’s Child Advocate issued a report issued in June that found DCYF failed to act despite of several warning signs, including observations of its own workers and complaints from the community. Her mother Michelle Rothgeb appeared in court June 28, where she entered not guilty please to manslaughter and abuse or neglect of the girl, who was left for hours in a bathtub, where she was found death.

House Minority Leader Blake Filippi issued a statement in response to Piccola’s announcement.

“The departure of Director Piccola provides us with the opportunity to fundamentally transform DCYF, which it desperately needs. We will continue to work with our government colleagues to support front line staff and increase their ranks, as they are a critical resource in meeting the needs of our most vulnerable children,” Filippi stated.


  • mongeau

    “fundamentally transform DCYF” That’s progressive speak for “make it worse”