DCF Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Charlie Crist

George H. Sheldon
Interim Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Sarrah Troncoso
August 27, 2008 850-488-4855

Secretary Butterworth Kicks Off Statewide Dependency Summit
~ Senate President-Designate Jeff Atwater joined Department Leadership to welcome the more than 1,700 attendees ~

ORLANDO, FLA. – Former Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth joined Senate President-Designate Jeff Atwater, Chief Child Advocate Jim Kallinger and interim Secretary George Sheldon along with many other child welfare leaders from around the state to kick off the Department’s tenth annual Dependency Summit today in Orlando. Andrew Bridge, former foster child and author of New York Times Best Seller Hope’s Boy, delivered the keynote address at the opening session.

Bridge recounted the eleven years of his life spent in the California dependency system, illustrating the importance of safely reducing the number of children in foster care. Since aging out of the foster care system, Bridge became a Fulbright Scholar and graduated from Harvard Law School. He has devoted his life to advocating for children in the dependency system throughout the United States. He coordinated the Foster Children’s Adoption Project, which later became an effort to facilitate adoptions across the nation also known as National Adoption Day.

Butterworth spoke after a video tribute to his almost 40-year career of public service, including 16 years as Florida’s elected Attorney General. He encouraged the 1,700 case workers, protective investigators, Guardians ad Litem, judges and other community partners to continue the progress made since last year’s Summit. Butterworth paid a tribute of his own to foster children in the audience, many of whom he had listened to and learned from during his tenure at the Department as he continually focused on addressing their issues.

“When we take a child out of his or her home, that child becomes a child of the state of Florida – our child,” said Butterworth. “And not a single parent in this room wants their child to be treated as a second-class citizen. We need to help our children finish high school or technical school or college, and if possible go on to graduate school. We have to be there for them, the way any parent would be.”

The Dependency Summit is designed for all individuals involved in the dependency system to share best practices and to find effective solutions for the children and families in Florida. Attendees include child protective investigators, community-based care administrators and case managers, as well as judges, attorneys, law enforcement, medical and mental health providers, and child advocates.

For more information about the Department of Children and Families’ Dependency Summit, visit http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/admin/dependency/2008/.


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