A measure aimed at beefing up community-based programs in the Department of Children and Families was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Jeb Bush.
The bill reorganizes parts of the state's social services agency and creates a prototype region _ Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties _ that will provide updates to Bush and the Legislature on the changes.
Bush signed the bill at a ceremony in a Sarasota YMCA, the site of a community-based child welfare project.
The reorganization lets the state expand contracts with county sheriffs for child investigative services, authorizes DCF to contract with a private agency in each county to provide children's services and eliminates 15 district Health and Human Services boards.
Bush's office said department employees affected by the changes will have priority in finding other state jobs.