David Abramowitz transitioned from a 30-year career as an officer in the U.S. Army to his post-retirement career as the North Florida regional managing director of the state Department of Children and Families.
His Army resume includes two years as a battalion commander in Katterbach, Germany, where he was responsible for improving relations with the German military and the civilian community. He later was chief of staff for the Iraq Assistance Group, where he oversaw the training of more than 500,000 Iraqi soldiers.
When he retired from military service with the rank of colonel, Abramowitz was the inspector general for the commanding general of the U.S. Forces Command, the Army's largest command comprising 750,000 soldiers and a $4.5 billion annual operating budget.
Abramowitz took over as DCF regional director for North Florida in January 2012. He said the transition from three decades in the military to working for a state social service agency has been a challenge.
"I'm very different in this organization," he said. "I'm not about being politically correct. I am about telling it like it is."
The region covers 20 counties in North and Central Florida, including Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns.
Abramowitz said with that much territory under his supervision, he's not often in Jacksonville because he participates in investigating cases and delivering the agency's services throughout the region.
"I want to see it on the ground. That's my Army background," he said.
Since he has been regional director, three issues have been the most troubling and challenging for Abramowitz.
He said No. 1 is men fathering children and then not being part of their children's lives.
"Fathers are not manning up. I am sick of fathers who don't take responsibility for their children," said Abramowitz.
The No. 2 item on the list is people who may be taking advantage of the system that supports them.
"This is not politically correct, but women are having children way too young. I've seen a 16-year-old girl with two kids. I asked her what she wants and she says she wants more children so the state will give her more money. They are too young to know how to parent and grandmothers are raising children," Abramowitz said.
Lack of faith is the third most challenging issue for children and families who are DCF clients.
"Most of the kids don't believe in God. They don't believe God would put them in the position they are in," Abramowitz said.
His goals are to improve the agency's efficiency and provide more and better service to its clients.
Abramowitz said of the 43 supervisors in the regional office, 20 are new hires since he took over as director.
"With me, if you can't cut it, you're gone," he said.
The main objective is to preserve families, if possible.
"I believe children need to be with their families. My goal is to keep kids with their families," Abramowitz said.
He is constantly seeking more partners in the effort to preserve families.
Abramowitz said there are 118 adult mentors who work with DCF in Duval County, but there is a much greater need.
In addition to more mentors, more foster parents who are willing to take in teenagers who have been separated from their families also are needed.
"It's Army 101 – without people, you can't do your operation," said Abramowitz.
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