DCF Press Release


State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Charlie Crist
Governor

Robert A. Butterworth
Secretary


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Al Zimmerman
November 6, 2007 850-488-4855

Children and Families and Sarasota Family YMCA Announce Joint Initiative to
Put the "Community" Back in Community-Based Care

~ The Department to seek bids on Pinellas and Pasco contract ~

TAMPA, FLA. - Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth and Sarasota Family YMCA Board Chairman Ronald Gelbman today announced a joint initiative between the two agencies to establish a true community based system of care in Pasco and Pinellas counties. As part of the plan, the YMCA will not seek renewal of its "north" contract to operate child welfare services in Pasco and Pinellas counties beyond June 30, 2008, allowing organizations based in the two counties to submit bids for the contract. The YMCA has, in turn, agreed to a one-year extension of its "south" contract to continue operating child welfare services in DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties. The "south" contract will now be in effect through June 30, 2009.

"Three years ago, when the Department was forced to initiate an emergency procurement of community-based care services in Pasco and Pinellas counties, we asked the Sarasota YMCA to step in and bring stability to the area, and the Y responded," said Secretary Butterworth. "Since that time, the Department and the Sarasota YMCA have sought to establish a true community-based system of care in the area. Today, we stand together on the decision to begin that transition."

Butterworth explained the Department will issue an ITN (Invitation to Negotiate) on the YMCA "north" contract within the next few weeks as the result of discussions and agreement among child welfare advocates, community leaders, the Department and the Sarasota Family YMCA.

"We answered the Department's call in 2004 to serve the most vulnerable children of Pasco and Pinellas counties," said Chairman Gelbman. "Because of our responsibility to the children in DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties, we recognized that it could not be a long term commitment. That's why we believe today's announcement is in the best interests of children in all five counties."

The Department's bid process will result in a new lead agency or agencies for Pasco and Pinellas counties, but all involved in this decision have agreed the current case management providers should remain in place for at least a year to ensure a smooth and seamless transition. While that transition is still likely months away, a team of professionals from fellow community-based care agencies and providers around the state have arrived in Pinellas County to provide direct assistance.

The team, led by Alan Abramowitz, Circuit Administrator in Brevard County, will remain in Pinellas County as long as necessary to assist members of the Sarasota YMCA in stabilizing operations.


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