Tuesday, April 3, 2007

DCF Leaders Vow a New Day

By Colleen Jenkins cjenkins@sptimes.com. Published March 27, 2007

TAMPA - Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth came to town Monday to introduce the agency's new regional director for Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Manatee counties.

But Butterworth and his colleagues also used the occasion to herald "a new day" of openness for the beleaguered child welfare department.

"We will no longer use this agency to hide behind the concept of confidentiality," George Sheldon, Butterworth's assistant secretary for operations, told law enforcement officials, DCF employees and reporters.

If the mantra sticks, it will certainly mean a climate change for DCF officials who traditionally have been tight-lipped about missteps in child welfare cases. Butterworth said confidentiality laws should be used to protect the identities of children but not to hide department mistakes.

The secretary and Cox both promised that the days of "no comment" from agency officials were over. During his first 10 weeks in office, Butterworth joined with a newspaper to ask a judge to release records in a southwest Florida abuse case in which the secretary admits mistakes were made.

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at 813 226-3337 or here >>

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