DCF Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Charlie Crist

George H. Sheldon

November 6, 2008
Media Contact: Sarrah Troncoso
(850) 488-4855
Summer Pfieffer
(850) 339-5463

Bob Butterworth Endowment to Assist Youth Aging Out of Foster Care
~ Endowment to help foster children aging out of Florida's Dependency System ~

ORLANDO, FLA. – With former Attorney General Bob Butterworth looking on, leaders of the child-welfare programs in Florida today announced the creation of the Bob Butterworth Endowment to help young people who are aging out of foster care.

As secretary of the Department of Children and Families until his retirement in August, Butterworth made it a Department priority to help foster children entering adulthood. His successor, Secretary George Sheldon, and president Mike Cusick of the non-profit Florida Coalition for Children joined to make the announcement at the non-profit's annual conference.

The Eckerd Family Foundation contributed $10,000 to launch the Endowment, which will provide scholarships to help the young adults pursue their education and career goals.

"Bob Butterworth recognized that we need to do more for young adults leaving the dependency system and I am proud to carry on that legacy and work with the Coalition to assist these youth," said Secretary Sheldon. "So many youth leave foster care at age 18 without the support of a family, and have to make the transition to independent adulthood faster than most young people. We need to do as much as we can to help them get on their feet and get a successful start in life, just as any parent would do for a child who has reached adulthood."

"The Eckerd Foundation has made a generous donation to get this Endowment established," Sheldon added. The Florida Coalition for Children, composed of community-based care lead agencies and service providers, will collect donations for the Endowment.

Each year, more than 1,200 young adults age out of foster care by turning 18. While the state provides temporary monthly stipends to some of them, the money is often far short of what they need to support themselves while completing their educations. The Butterworth Endowment will help fill that gap for selected youth.

Now individuals, foundations, companies and others will be able to donate funds to help the former foster kids. Donations can be made online at http://www.bobbutterworthendowment.org.

"The Eckerd Family Foundation is pleased and honored that we are able to seed the Bob Butterworth Endowment," said Jane Soltis, Vice President of the Eckerd Family Foundation. "This investment is consistent with our mission to support the educational goals and successful transitions into adulthood for youth in foster care. This Endowment follows the Foundation's scholarship initiative, which has provided flexible funding opportunities for more than 2,000 youth in Florida."

A Selection Committee will meet twice a year to review applications and select recipients for the Endowment. Seven representatives from the child welfare community were appointed including:

  • Steven Murphy, Executive Director, Devereux Florida Treatment Network
  • Jeff Rainey, Chief Executive Officer, Hillsborough Kids Inc.
  • Jane Soltis, Vice President, Eckerd Family Foundation
  • Brandon Butterworth, Representative appointed by Bob Butterworth
  • Liz Brown, Executive Director, Turtle's Nest Village
  • Tammy Workman, Department of Children and Families and Former Foster Youth
  • Onchantho Am, Connected by 25 Initiative and Former Foster Youth

"I am just so extremely gratified to be involved in the development and the ongoing administration of grants to independent living kids in the name of Bob Butterworth," said Steven Murphy, Executive Director of Devereux Florida Treatment Network.

For more information about the Bob Butterworth Endowment, visit http://www.state.fl.us/cf_web/.


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