State’s child advocate resigns

Jamey Bell has resigned as the state’s child advocate, she confirmed Monday.

Her decision to leave comes seven months after becoming head of the watchdog agency overseeing state departments responsible for abused and neglected children.

“I am leaving to lead the organization I spent most of my career at,” Bell said during an interview.

Bell awaits board confirmation to become executive director of Greater Hartford Legal Aid, which provides legal services for low-income individuals. That position became vacant in the spring. Bell said the opportunity of returning to where she spent 26 years of her career was too appealing not to pursue.

“This was not an opportunity that was available when I was named the child advocate,” she said.

Bell has notified the governor’s office of her resignation but not the date it will take effect. (Read her resignation letter here.)

“We thank her for her service, and look forward to receiving a list of candidates from the advisory committee,” said the governor’s spokesman, Andrew Doba.

Catherine Cook, a member of the agency’s advisory board, said Bell was put into a difficult position when becoming the advocate in November.

“The job she took is not the job she has been asked to perform,” said Cook, a former Republican state senator from Groton and an advocate for the developmentally disabled. “There has been an overarching frustration with the governor’s plans.”

Two years ago, the governor shepherded into state law the consolidation of several watchdog agencies into one agency, the Office of Governmental Accountability. That office has had major funding and staffing reductions.

Bell said the consolidation and cuts are not the reason for her departure.

Bell was one of the three finalists the advisory board forwarded to the governor’s office for his consideration.