DCF Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Charlie Crist

Robert A. Butterworth

January 14, 2008 850-488-4855

Children and Families Announces New Director of Children's Legal Services in Southern Region
~ Esther Jacobo to serve as the Southern Regional Director for Children's Legal Services ~

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. – Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth announced today the appointment of Esther Jacobo as the Children's Legal Services Regional Director. She will serve in the Department's newly created Southern Region encompassing Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. Children's Legal Services is the largest division of the Department's legal services, incorporating approximately 350 attorneys statewide.

"We're very fortunate to have a person with Esther's education and experience leading Children's Legal Services for the Southern Region," said Secretary Butterworth. "With her background in family violence prosecution, she understands the tragic nature of and the trauma created by abuse in the home."

The Department's legal services are separated into two divisions: Children's Legal Services and the Office of the General Counsel. Attorneys working for Children's Legal Services play a vital role in Florida's dependency system, working with community partners such as judges, law enforcement, foster parents and guardians to ensure vulnerable children and families are safe and receiving the services they need. Mary Cagle, hired in September 2007, is the Statewide Director of Children's Legal Services.

"Esther possesses the leadership and litigation skills necessary to create the new culture Secretary Butterworth envisions", said Mary Cagle. "She is an extremely talented trial lawyer with extensive experience in the area of Domestic Violence, one of the major contributing factors to why children come into the dependency system."

"I am very excited to be part of the management team that is going to bring change to this important agency", said Esther Jacobo. "The interest of children and families has been the focus of my legal career both at the State Attorney's Office and in private practice."

Jacobo has been practicing law in Florida for over 15 years. Her career began at the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office. Jacobo was a Felony Division Chief, and later designated as the Division Chief of the Felony Domestic Crimes Unit, where she prosecuted homicides resulting from domestic violence. She has provided extensive education and training on domestic violence prosecution and she has served on several community-based committees in south Florida that were established to improve services and law enforcement response to family violence victims. Jacobo earned her Juris Doctorate and Bachelor's degree from St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida.

For more information about the programs and services offered by the Florida Department of Children and Families, visit www.state.fl.us/cf_web/.


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