Deborah Garneau, MA
Region I Director (2022-2025)
Rhode Island Department of Health
Chief, Office of Special Needs

Background & Bio

Deborah Garneau is the Chief of the Office of Special Needs at the Rhode Island Department of Health. In this position she is responsible for the supervision, management, and leadership of the Office’s three program areas including Pediatric Specialty Services, Disability and Health and Family Support and Empowerment. The Office manages community performance-based contracts, the scope of which include medical home enhancement, youth medical transition, emergency preparedness for people with disabilities, service delivery system development, establishment of linkages between primary and specialty care, provision of parent support, health promotion for people with disabilities, resource development for parents and professionals, ensuring physical accessibility of healthcare facilities, and comprehensive surveillance of quality systems of care. Innovative programs receiving national best practice recognition include the Pediatric Practice Enhancement Project and Dare to Dream Student Leadership Initiative.

In addition to direct contract management, Deborah is responsible for collaborating with state agencies and community providers in establishing policies to ensure an integrated special needs service delivery system for the provision of direct services for children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) and their families. This collaboration has leveraged funding from health plans, Medicaid and pediatric providers to enhance medical homes and coordinated systems of care.

As the Interim Team Lead, Deborah is responsible for overall program and policy management of the Office of Special Needs, Office of Primary Care and Rural Health, Office of Minority Health and Office of Women’s Health. She served as a mental health clinician and administrator with at-risk children and their families prior to state service.