DCF Secretary Bob Butterworth grilled in St. Petersburg

08/02/07 Seán Kinane
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Bob Butterworth was appointed Secretary of the Department of Children and Families this year by Gov. Charlie Crist.

This afternoon Butterworth, the former attorney general of Florida, addressed the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club in St. Petersburg.

Gov. Crist’s parents were in attendance and the governor appeared briefly. Many in the audience wondered why Butterworth had accepted Crist’s invitation to lead an agency that has been involved in numerous controversies and lawsuits.

“… To have this particular job that affects on a day-to-day basis more people than anyone else ... 13,500 employees directly with DCF, and about that same number with our partner,” Butterworth said.

DCF has been reorganized many times, but this is the first time the agency has reorganized itself rather than the Legislature doing it for them. Butterworth thinks this will improve service.

“Tallahassee should not be making decisions. It should be made locally, at the lowest level possible."

Butterworth said that one of his biggest accomplishments has been resolving the issue of people who were judged incompetent to stand trial lingering in local jails rather than being transferred to beds in state hospitals.

When a child in foster care turns 18, she will no longer receive any services at all. This is called “aging out.”

Butterworth called it the biggest problem facing his agency and said it was important to fund a program so that these 18-year-olds could continue to receive services while they finish school.

Butterworth stressed that under his leadership, DCF would operate more transparently.

He also said that roughly half of the department’s budget is contracted out to nonprofits around the state.

Butterworth told WMNF that he hoped business organizations would put pressure on the Legislature to ensure that children and family programs are a priority.

“A great deal of business community leaders are on our various boards that we contract with. And usually their businesses are very generous of helping out various entities on the local level."

Learn more:

Florida Department of Children and Families

St. Petersburg Tiger Bay Club

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