Amanda Prater talks about being a mother in politics and why she’s leaving DCF

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It is a cliché in politics and work circles that when things get messy on the job, people resign… always “for family reasons,” even when it is obvious that there’s more to the story. But in the case of working mothers with young children, family is often the real reason why a change in work life is needed. This was the case for Amanda Prater, who today announced her resignation as Chief of Staff at Florida’s Department of Children and Families.

Mother to two elementary-age children, Prater has worked around the clock at DCF for the past two years, but is no stranger to the 24-7 job. She joined the agency following six years with the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget and the Governor’s Legislative Affairs Office and two years with the Florida House Majority Office and the House Health and Human Services Committee.

“I love my job here and I believe in this agency and have the greatest admiration for my colleagues here at DCF,” said Prater. “There is no more important work that I could think of than protecting innocent children and helping those that need it most.”

Yet as the frequency of missed field trips, dinners, and homework time with her own kids increased, Prater felt that the balance between family and work had to shift.

She reluctantly shared her intentions with DCF Secretary David Wilkins weeks ago, prior to much of the recent news articles regarding four tragic child deaths and unrelated to her work responsibilities.

“It was the hardest decision I’ve made. But I knew that if I didn’t make a change I would regret it later,” she said.

Prater’s story is a common one among mothers working in politics — the jobs we strive for and earn often come with a degree of unpredictability difficult to maintain while raising young children, particularly when both parents work in the same 24-7 arena. And sometimes stepping back and regrouping is the only way to ensure that all needs are met.

But this isn’t the last we will see or hear of Amanda Prater — policy and government are in her blood, and when it comes to managing a broad range of complex issues, she is a natural.

“Amanda worked at DCF with the goal of ensuring all Florida children the same safety and devotion she feels for her own,” Vivian Myrtetus, former DCF Chief of Staff and mother of two said. “Jackson and Emma will see more of their mom now, but those qualities in her will show up just as strongly wherever she puts her mind next.”