Caldwell excited about opportunity to lead CRS
For Children’s Rehabilitation Service Director Cathy Caldwell, her new position with the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services has seemed more like the next step than a major change.
Caldwell, a Prattville native who spent the last 12 years as director of the Bureau of Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP) with the Alabama Department of Public Health, said the switch to the top CRS position has been seamless so far thanks to an outpouring of support from throughout the department.
“Everyone has been incredibly helpful,” she said. “They reference the Rehab family and tell me this is the best place in the world to work. It is pretty mind-blowing that everybody feels that way and they articulate it.”
Caldwell, who officially joined the department June 1, had been with the Department of Public Health for 20 years. Her stint there began when she was pursuing a master’s of public health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a concentration in maternal and child health. She immediately went to work on the All Kids program as an intern and was added as the fourth member of the CHIP staff. Caldwell helped build the program and served as data manager, administrator, deputy director, and director starting in 2007. She remained in that position until joining CRS.
Caldwell and her staff worked closely with the National State Health Policy on several national projects, and she even had an opportunity to testify before Congress on the importance of the CHIP program.
Caldwell said the chance to continue serving Alabama’s children in a new capacity is exciting.
“It is a wonderful opportunity,” she said. “It’s something that I can get passionate about, and to me it’s such an extension of what I was already doing. It is such an exciting venture and actually brings me one step closer to the families that we serve.”
At ADPH, Caldwell said, her job focused more on eligibility requirements. Now, she is closer to the direct services and children and youth with special health care needs.
“It is almost like it is part of the natural cycle to be involved,” she said. “I really am excited to be here, and I think it is such a good fit. This is an incredible opportunity.”
When former CRS Director Melinda Davis retired, Caldwell’s name consistently surfaced as a candidate. ADRS Commissioner Jane Elizabeth Burdeshaw reached out to Caldwell, who said the more she learned about the position the more excited she became.
After discussing the job with her family, Caldwell said she decided to follow their advice and her heart and make the move to CRS.
“I truly knew it was the right thing,” she said. “In my heart, I knew this was the right place for me.”
Caldwell said her initial goal is to begin forming relationships within the department by getting to know the staff and becoming more familiar with CRS and its mission. She also hopes to grow existing CRS relationships and develop new ones.
“There are so many exciting opportunities for more partnerships locally and even abroad,” she said.
When she is not in the office, Caldwell said she enjoys spending time with her husband Jim and their three children and five grandchildren. She enjoys fishing, gardening, and exercising.