State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Charlie Crist

Robert A. Butterworth

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Al Zimmerman
April 27, 2007 850-488-4855

Senate Unanimously Confirms Butterworth as Secretary of Children and Families

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. - The Florida Senate today voted unanimously to confirm Bob Butterworth to serve and protect Florida's most vulnerable citizens as Secretary of the Department of Children and Families. Butterworth, who was appointed to the position by Governor Charlie Crist in January 2007, is the 17th person to lead Florida's social services agency.

"I am delighted that Bob has agreed to serve the people of Florida in this capacity," said Governor Crist. "As a successful and respected leader throughout his long career as a public servant, I can think of no one more qualified to lead this Department into a new phase of transparent and reliable service."

"It's a privilege to lead the Department's 13,500 professionals who work with great dedication and determination to assist the children and families of Florida who need our help," said Secretary Butterworth. "I'm honored by the confidence that Governor Crist and the Legislature have placed in my leadership, and I can assure you that I won't let them or the people of Florida down."

Immediately stepping in to the position of Secretary in January 2007, Butterworth successfully negotiated a resolution to the much publicized need for forensic mental health services. Butterworth lobbied for an additional $16 million from the Legislative Budget Commission to increase the State's capacity to serve individuals with mental illness. However, recognizing that funding alone would not solve the state's mental health issues, Secretary Butterworth pursued agreements with key public defenders throughout the state to develop projects where the state provides services in jails or in community settings so those individuals do not have to wait for treatment. As a result of all these actions the Department has lowered the number of individuals waiting beyond the statutory limits for services from 250 in January to eight individuals today.

Butterworth also provided new direction to the Department's legal team recognizing the extent to which time, energy and taxpayer dollars were being spent on costly litigation. Under the Secretary's direction, from February 2007 to present, the Department has successfully closed 229 cases involving Department-related litigation and appeals.

Applying six guiding principles in all leadership decisions, Butterworth has initiated a shift in culture at Children and Families from an atmosphere of controversy and confidentiality to one of openness and action. Department employees have been asked to embrace the principles of integrity, accountability, transparency, leadership, an orientation to action and to strengthen their roles as community partners.

These principles were the basis for Butterworth's decision in March to join the leaders of the Agency for Healthcare Administration, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Department of Juvenile Justice to address head-on allegations of child abuse and misconduct at a state contracted juvenile mental health facility. Together, the agencies acted swiftly ensuring the health and safety of the children involved and establishing an unprecedented level of coordination and communication.

Prior to joining the Department, Butterworth served four terms as Attorney General of the State of Florida, making him the longest serving Attorney General in state history. He has served as a county judge, circuit judge, prosecutor, and as Sheriff of Broward County. Twice, governors called upon him to serve as a troubleshooter: once to head the parent agency of the Florida Highway Patrol to reform the agency's police force and implement diversity into its ranks, and again to serve as interim mayor of Sunrise, a South Florida city plagued with political corruption. Early in his legal career, Secretary Butterworth served as an adjunct professor at the Nova University Graduate School of Criminal Justice. He most recently served as dean of the St. Thomas University School of Law.

Secretary Butterworth received his B.S.B.A. degree from the University of Florida and his J.D. from the University of Miami Law School. He also did advanced studies in international law at the University of Miami Graduate School of Law and holds honorary doctorates from Stetson University, Nova Southeastern University, Florida A&M University and Barry University.


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