LITTLE ROCK — Betty Guhman, who has served as interim director of the state Department of Human Services’ Division of Youth Services since July, will become the division’s permanent director, the agency said Monday.

Guhman began her career as a protective service worker for what is now the DHS’ Division of Children and Family Services in 1973. In 1977, she was named deputy commissioner of the newly formed Division of Youth Services.

She also has served a sociology professor at the University of Arkansas and director of the Fulbright School of Public Affairs. She has been a senior adviser to Gov. Asa Hutchinson and previously served as his chief of staff when he was in Congress and his chief of staff and adviser when he was an undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

She has a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Arkansas and a master’s degree in social work administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

“Betty, whom I’ve known for many years, has done a phenomenal job since stepping in to the interim role earlier this summer and has proven to be the best person for the job,” Hutchinson said in a statement Monday.

“Her years and breadth of experience in child welfare and human services have equipped her with an invaluable set of skills, and while she will certainly be missed in her role as my senior adviser, I know the state and our children are better served with Betty at the helm at DYS,” he said.

DHS Director Cindy Gillespie said Guhman has “already started taking an in-depth look at the division and is willing to put in the hard work necessary to ensure are juvenile justice system is more robust and better serves youth.”

Guhman said, “I look forward to meeting with everyone involved in the system, especially judges as I work to ensure that the services we are buying are meeting the needs of our youth and the courts. I’m also putting a greater emphasis on using data to drive decisions and providing more alternatives to commitment.”