DCF Press Release


State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Charlie Crist
Governor

Robert A. Butterworth
Secretary


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Al Zimmerman
January 16, 2008 850-488-4855



Children and Families Secretary Reveals Department Goals and Initiatives For 2008
~ Secretary Butterworth says the business community plays a critical role in the effort to protect Florida’s most vulnerable children ~

FT. LAUDERDALE, FLA. – Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth today met with representatives of the Greater Ft. Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce to discuss his goals and initiatives for the year ahead, and to urge chamber members and business owners to partner with us in our effort to protect and provide for at-risk children. The Secretary called on businesses to invest in the future of our foster children by providing them with jobs, investing in community initiatives to build transitional housing, and offering financial support to community organizations that serve foster children.

"The support provided in 2007 by the business community, our community partners, and Florida’s Governor has allowed the Department to evolve into Florida’s action agency," said Secretary Butterworth. "The programs and services we provide to Florida’s most vulnerable families have seen marked improvement, but we realize there is much to be done in the year ahead."

Secretary Butterworth has identified a number of priorities for the Department in 2008 to improve services and programs to Florida’s most vulnerable children and families:
  • Enable children in foster care and young adults who were formerly in foster care to develop the skills necessary for successful transition to adulthood and self-sufficiency. To assist in that effort, the Department has asked the legislature for $16.8 million in additional funding that will be used to provide children in the Independent Living Program with a place to live and a source of income, so they can finish high school and complete a post-secondary education.

  • Work closely with community partners to begin implementing the Supreme Court initiative focused on building a mental health system that prevents criminalizing persons with mental illness. The Department has asked the Legislature for more than 100 million dollars in additional mental health funding to assist in that effort.

  • Improve the stability of children in foster care to reduce the number of placement settings that a child will have in foster care, and decrease the number of schools that a child in foster care attends, Also, reduce the number of children in foster care by increasing in-home intervention and support so that more children can remain safely in their homes rather than enter out-of-home care.

  • Speed up the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) process. Many of the home studies done on homes to make sure they are safe for the placement of a child are taking too long. Children are waiting weeks, even months, to be placed with out-of-state relatives. The Department has worked to develop an automated system that enables our case managers to track the status of an ICPC request, and in 2008, the Department will make that technology accessible to the court system to streamline their role in the process.

  • Reduce homelessness among at-risk families and vulnerable adults by increasing affordable housing for persons with mental illness, young adults transitioning out of foster care, and veterans, as well as provide services to veterans and low income individuals who are homeless or at-risk of being homeless.
Secretary Butterworth has also directed all employees of the Department, its partners, and its providers to work with a sense of urgency and common sense in the year ahead.

"If we always work with a sense of urgency we will save lives," said Secretary Butterworth. "If we use common sense, we will work more efficiently and save time and taxpayers’ money, and practically, not bureaucratically, deal with the problems of Florida’s citizens."

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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