DCF Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Charlie Crist

Robert A. Butterworth

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Al Zimmerman
June 30, 2007 850-488-4855

Department of Children and Families Reaches Target Zero
for Forensic Bed Wait List

- Department reaches goal of zero individuals waiting for services as of June 30, 2007 -

TALLAHASSEE- Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth announced today the Department has successfully reached its goal of zero individuals waiting for forensic mental health services in the State of Florida. On May 9, 2007 the Department surpassed its goal of zero individuals waiting over 15 days. Today, the Department reports no individuals are waiting in jail for a forensic mental health treatment bed. The overall waiting list is now at zero. This is a dramatic change from the January 5, 2007 status of 295 on the list with 251 waiting in excess of 15 days for services.

"It's remarkable how far we've come, but we couldn't have done it without the support of the Governor, the Legislature, our community partners, and the judicial system," said Butterworth. "We recognize this is one moment in time and we face challenges ahead, but we'll continue to take an aggressive approach in addressing the needs of individuals with mental illness."

In January, the Department sought out and received $16.6 million dollars to add more treatment beds to the state's overwhelmed system. Since that time, the Florida Legislature appropriated an additional $46 million dollars during the 2007 Legislative Session to continue to enhance community and in-jail mental health services. In addition, the Department sought creative local solutions, partnering with representatives of the Pinellas, Orange and Broward county law enforcement and judicial systems to design diversion programs that keep individuals with mental illness out of jail and receiving services in their communities. To date, these diversion efforts have been successful.

In addition, leadership throughout the state eagerly await the findings of Judge Steven Leifman, of Miami, who was appointed by Florida Chief Justice Fred R. Lewis in April to conduct research into how the state's law enforcement, judicial and mental health systems can better coordinate to serve this vulnerable population.

Today, 50 individuals who have been restored to competency await transport back to Court to proceed with their cases. Children and Families continues to coordinate with local law enforcement partners and the judicial system to streamline this transportation process.

For more information on the Department of Children and Families and mental health services in Florida, visit http://www.state.fl.us/cf_web/.


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