Division Leadership

The Department of Children and Families is made up of the Secretary's Office and five divisions organized according to human services function. 

Priya Bhatia | Division of Early Care & Education

Headshot of Priya Bhatia

The Division of Early Care and Education (DECE) houses Child Care Licensing and Certification, Milwaukee County Child Care Administration, the YoungStar Program, Wisconsin Shares, Operations and Planning, and Program Integrity. DECE aims to provide access to affordable, high-quality child care and early education experiences, to enhance our children's development, and to support their families in work and parenting roles.

Priya Bhatia was appointed administrator of the Division of Early Care and Education in January 2023. Bhatia served as the policy initiatives advisor in DCF’s Division of Early Care and Education since 2020. Since joining DCF, she has played a key role in furthering the division’s vision of expanding access to affordable, quality early care and education that meets the needs of all Wisconsin families. She also has led policy and programs for numerous initiatives funded through pandemic relief dollars, including the monthly Child Care Counts payment program

Prior to joining DCF, Bhatia was part of the leadership team at a housing nonprofit to promote homeownership for Milwaukee families. She is an attorney by training and has practiced commercial litigation and immigration law, advocating for survivors of domestic violence and other immigrant families. 

Bhatia earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science from Northwestern University and a law degree from The University of Chicago. She has lived in Wisconsin for over a decade and is passionate about creating stronger and more equitable communities in her adopted home state. Priya is the proud mom of two children and a pandemic puppy.

John Elliott | Division of Safety & Permanence

Headshot of Shelby McCully

The Division of Safety and Permanence houses child welfare, foster care, and adoption assistance, the Bureau of Youth Services, the Juvenile Justice Youth Aids Program and domestic abuse prevention. It focuses on protecting the most vulnerable; especially those who have been victims of child abuse or neglect, domestic abuse, or sex trafficking. It also looks to the future, with a keen eye placed upon improving long-term outcomes for foster youth and young people in the juvenile justice system that are at risk of moving into the adult correctional system without appropriate intervention.

John Elliott was appointed the administrator for the Division of Safety and Permanence (DSP) in December 2023. John has been a steadfast leader and advocate for the department and previously served as the deputy division administrator for DSP where he provided oversight of the Child Welfare Training System and eWiSACWIS case management system, led major division initiatives, and oversaw the operation functions of the division. 

John has been with the department for over a decade and is an experienced leader in strategy development and execution, policy development and implementation, research, and leading large-scale projects in large complex public/private organizations. Prior to joining DCF, John worked in leadership positions at TruStage (formerly CUNA Mutual group), University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. 

John earned a Master of Public Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison LaFollette Institute of Public Affairs. He is the proud father of two college aged daughters and happily married for 28 years where his spouse works in child welfare as an attorney representing parents. John was also adopted as a child in the state of Michigan and uses that experience to inform his work.

Connie Chesnik | Division of Family & Economic Security

Headshot of Connie Chesnik

The Division of Family and Economic Security (DFES) houses the Wisconsin Works, Child Support, Refugee Services, and the Transform Milwaukee and Transitional Jobs programs. DFES provides short term help and resources to people working to become self-sufficient.

Connie Chesnik was appointed the administrator for the Division of Family and Economic Security in March 2019. Chesnik previously served as a staff attorney for the Department of Health Services (DHS), Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and most recently at DCF, focusing her area of practice on the state’s child support and Wisconsin Works (W-2) programs. Chesnik has lectured frequently on child support related issues and has authored numerous articles. She also has extensive experience working with Wisconsin Tribes on child support and W-2 issues. 

Chesnik received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association and the National Child Support Enforcement Association. Chesnik married her college sweetheart, Kevin, and they have three grown daughters. Connie and Kevin enjoy traveling the world and are avid Badger and Brewers fans.

Sarah Henery | Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services

Headshot of Sarah Henery

The Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services (DMCPS) works with families to ensure the safety and well-being of children. In partnership with many other community based resources, DMCPS provides services to families in crisis that help keep children safely in the home. When it is necessary, DMCPS looks to foster and adoptive families to provide appropriate temporary and permanent homes for children who cannot live with their parents.

Sarah Henery was appointed administrator for the Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services in November 2020. Henery began her career with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) in the Office of Legal Counsel. She covered legal topics related to public benefits, employment law, open government, and child welfare. For the better part of her decade with DCF, Henery focused on providing legal advice and representation to staff and clients of DMCPS in circuit and administrative courts. She appeared on behalf of DCF in Milwaukee County Children’s Court hundreds of times. In this role, she served on several interdisciplinary workgroups to improve practice and systems at the local and statewide level. She served two terms as a member of the board on the Children and the Law Section of the State Bar, including one year as Chairperson of the Board. She has assisted with drafting and reviewing legislation related to children’s law issues.

Henery earned Bachelor’s degrees in Anthropology and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Wisconsin Law School. Before obtaining her law degree, Henery worked for the Wisconsin State Assembly Sergeant at Arms, the Wisconsin State Elections Board, and Epic. While in law school, she worked for the Wisconsin Innocence Project and interned at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Milwaukee. Henery volunteered for organizations in New Orleans impacted by Hurricane Katrina during breaks in her law school academic calendar.

Hope Koprowski | Division of Management Services 

Headshot of Hope Koprowski

The Division of Management Services (DMS) oversees financial management, information systems and technology; affirmative action and civil rights compliance; purchasing and contract administration; facilities management; project management; and other administrative services for the department.

Hope Koprowski was appointed administrator for the Division of Management Services (DMS) in March 2022. Koprowski has nearly 28 years of service with the State of Wisconsin. Koprowski previously served as the deputy division administrator for DMS, where she co-led the division through the pandemic and championed sustainable hybrid work. Prior to that, she served admirably as the finance director in DCF for six years, guiding the department through the STAR implementation and playing a leadership role in the enterprise-wide Financial Managers Council. 

Prior to her time at DCF, Koprowski previously served as the director of Fiscal Services in the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), where she also served as DVA’s finance and bond officer and a general accounting section manager. Prior to that she held accounting roles at both the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), where she began her career in state service.  

Koprowski has an undergraduate degree in accounting from Carroll College. Hope and husband Tom live in Sun Prairie and have two adult sons as well as a rescue Weimaraner named Calvin. Koprowski and her family are avid skiers.