Beverly Mackereth jokes with State Representative Seth Grove at the Crispus Attucks Early Learning Center Friday.
Beverly Mackereth jokes with State Representative Seth Grove at the Crispus Attucks Early Learning Center Friday. (Bill Kalina)

Gov. Tom Corbett on Friday morning tapped a former Republican state representative from Spring Grove to replace the state's resigning secretary of public welfare.

The governor named Bev Mackereth, who's currently serving as deputy secretary for Children, Youth & Families at the Department of Public Welfare, during an appearance in York. She starts as Acting Secretary Feb. 15.

Corbett appeared at York's Crispus Attucks Early Learning Center, along with current secretary Gary Alexander.

The governor said he has known Mackereth for several years and he's confident she'll perform her duties well.

Asked whether Mackereth will move from Acting Secretary to Secretary, Corbett said all everything "comes in due time." It's state policy to make appointees "acting" until others have had a chance for consideration. Mackereth was joined Friday by her "guys," a group of her former House colleagues from the York delegation.

She said her York County roots will always be a part of who she is as a public official.

She said the assignment is "an exciting challenge and an opportunity," and she wants to take the department "back to basics."

"The taxpayers can't possibly provide everything for everybody, so getting back to the basics and helping the people who need the help the most ... that's where we're going to focus our energy."

She said reforming an inefficient Medicaid system will be a top priority, as will issues involving children.

Budget cuts have been tough for the department, but they've forced some focus, she said.

"I think we've gotten to the point where the past couple years were difficult financially, and this year we have the opportunity to take people off the waiting list," she said. "We were able to get to that point by making some tough decisions."

She said she plans to watch department's program offices to find efficiencies and make sure operations are running smoothly, asking "What are we doing? Are we serving and providing the right services to the people we're supposed to be?"

At Friday's event, the governor talked about the Rising STARS initiative, which focuses on helping at-risk children achieve better outcomes later in life by providing quality early child care and education. Corbett allocated $3 million in additional funds for the program in the budget he proposed Tuesday.

York background: Mackereth, 55, served in the state House's 196th District for eight years.

She ran for the office in 2000, when incumbent Todd Platts decided to focus on his Congressional campaign instead of running for re-election.

In 2008, she announced she would leave the state House to become York County's executive director of Human Services.

After about three years, she was offered and accepted her current post, which she's held for about 18 months.

Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, replaced Mackereth in the 196th District.

He said he looks forward to grilling Mackereth on tough issues, but he's sure she'll do a great job.

"I don't think there's a better fit for the position than Bev," he said. "It's also neat having a secretary who's your constituent as well."

Grove and other legislators attended Friday's event.

Leaving: Alexander announced Tuesday he was leaving the job, saying he'll explore unspecified private-sector opportunities and spend more time with his family.

- Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.