DCF Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Charlie Crist

Robert A. Butterworth

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Al Zimmerman
August 3, 2007 850-488-4855

Children and Families Deploys Review Team to Assess Sarasota YMCA Performance

TAMPA, FLA.- Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth announced today in Tampa the appointment of a special review team selected to assess the performance of all operations of the Sarasota Family YMCA, a community-based care provider contracted by the state. The announcement came as Butterworth convened the first meeting of his newly selected Task Force for Child Protection, charged with reviewing all aspects of the state's child protection system and identifying solutions that would protect Florida's most vulnerable children.

Butterworth personally addressed the Task Force which was created in the wake of the much-publicized Courtney Clark case where a young child supervised by the Department and the Sarasota YMCA, was missing for almost four months before being reported to Florida law enforcement. A report from the Department's Inspector General and a Family Safety Quality Assurance review found that the Sarasota YMCA failed to adequately provide for the care, safety and protection of the children involved in the Courtney Clark case. Poor communication and weak procedures contributed to this failure.

The Sarasota Family YMCA review team includes the following managers and community leaders from around the state:

  • Melissa Jaacks, Assistant Secretary for Administration, Department of Children and Families
  • Chief Judge Lee Haworth, 12th Judicial Circuit
  • Gay Lancaster, Executive Director, Juvenile Welfare Board in Pinellas County
  • Nancy Dreicer, Regional Director for Children and Families' Northeast Region
  • Mike Watkins, Chief Executive of Big Bend Community-based Care
  • Roger Bouchard, President of the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches
  • Dr. Patricia Nellius, Chief Executive of Community-based Care of Brevard, Inc.
Butterworth pledged accountability from the Department of Children and Families and from its contracted agencies, adding a comment that he is fast becoming known for, "Just because we contract out our child welfare system… doesn't mean we contract away our responsibility for children."


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