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Welcome to Florida Child Advocate

February 4th, 2018   No Comments   Abuse, Adoption, Advocacy

(Scroll Beyond This Introduction to Read the Latest Blog Post)

Thousands of foster children, former foster children, developmentally disabled and medically needy children are part of the Florida child care system. If you’re currently or formerly a child in – or an advocate for or parent of a child in the foster care system, Florida Child Advocate is here to help.

Every year, thousands of foster children, medically needy children, or those physically abused, sexually abused, the victims of personal injury,  legal damages, and pain and suffering are left to seek solutions on their own. No child should go through this on his or her own. And for the almost 500 who have died while under state watch, they deserved better.

This site was created by the law firm of Talenfeld Law, which was founded by nationally known Florida child advocate Howard Talenfeld, the preeminent children’s rights attorneys focusing exclusively on protecting the rights of physically and sexually abused children, developmentally disabled children and other at-risk children. Florida Child Advocate is dedicated to protecting children and addressing key issues facing those with foster care, physical abuse, child sexual abuse, social services, dependency, disability or personal injury and damages claims or lawsuits against the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), lead agencies, community based care providers, and other child welfare providers.

We believe that children belong with their own families. However, we also believe that when protective investigations by the Florida DCF and its agencies reveal that children are at high risk of neglect, child sex abuse or physical abuse by their parents, they must be placed with suitable relatives when they are available, and if not, some children must be placed in foster care. Critically, if children are going to be taken into foster care, they should be protected by the Florida Department of Children & Families and their community partners from the risk of physical and sexual abuse and returned home or placed in loving and nurturing adoptive families as quickly as possible. Topics also include the rights of foster Children to be safe from harm in care, their right to medical, psychological care, and disability benefits, their educational rights, and their rights on the road to independence.

Read the rest of this entry »



Tampa Bay Times: State agrees to foster care reforms in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, but what about rest of Florida?

It’s a tragedy that abused and neglected foster children like Naika Venant who died by suicide have been bounced from inappropriate placement to inappropriate placement. It is our hope that Secretary Chad Poppell will make these critical changes throughout Florida.

To read more from the Tampa Bay Times, click here.



Daily Business Review: Exposés Explore Child Sex Abuse by Celebs and Complicit Family Members

March 18th, 2019   No Comments   Abuse, Sexual Abuse

“Leaving Neverland” is the heart-wrenching story of two now-adult men who claim they were victims of sexual and psychological abuse as teens by Michael Jackson. Sadly, it’s only one of two such exposés out now. “Surviving R. Kelly” explores similar allegations against former R&B superstar Robert Sylvester Kelly, or R. Kelly. Together, they shed light on a horrible modern reality: children allegedly groomed by their star-struck parents, then handed over to sexual predators.

Read the entire commentary piece from Talenfeld Law Founder Howard Talenfeld by clicking here.



Florida’s Children First’s 17th Annual Broward Reception Celebrates the Voice of the Youth and the Legacy of Skip Campbell

Florida’s Children First (FCF), the statewide advocacy organization focused on protecting the legal rights of at-risk and foster care children, recognized child advocates and former foster youth in Broward County at FCF’s 17th Annual Broward Child Advocacy Reception, held at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on Feb. 21, 2019.

More than 250 individuals, including child advocates, elected officials, judges, community and business leaders, and other persons concerned about the future of Florida’s children, were in attendance. This event shined a spotlight on the power of youth advocacy, including powerful speeches from several members of Florida Youth SHINE, a statewide organization founded by FCF that empowers current and former foster youth to become advocates for all youth in care. The evening also featured a special tribute to the legacy of the Honorable Skip Campbell including his work with FCF, his achievements as a Senate leader, and his passion for helping children in need.

Read the rest of this entry »



WFLA: Florida child therapist charged with 50 counts of possession of child pornography

March 4th, 2019   No Comments   Sexual Abuse

It’s devastating to learn when someone who was supposed to be protecting our children is actually exploiting them. According to this WFLA news report, a licensed clinical social worker in the Tampa Bay area was recently arrested and is facing 50 counts of child porn possession. The report states that the Tampa Police Department Cyber Crimes Squad uncovered “multiple items of evidence” inside the suspect’s Temple Terrace home and his clinic.

Read more here.



Florida’s Preeminent Child Advocacy Group Florida’s Children First Hosts Annual Broward County Fundraiser Event February 21st

February 17th, 2019   No Comments   Florida's Children First

Florida’s Children First, the state’s premiere independent advocacy organization, will recognize the legacy of the Honorable Skip Campbell and celebrate the power of youth advocacy in Broward County at its annual fundraising event. Community and business leaders, and all other persons concerned about the future of Florida’s children, especially abused, abandoned, and neglected children and youth, will be in attendance.

Please join Florida’s Children First this Thursday and help us give a voice to tens of thousands of children in Florida’s Child Protection System!

Register by clicking here.

Donate and support Florida’s Children First by clicking here.



Educators Face Charges of Physical Abuse of Autistic Children, Failure to Report Sex Abuse

February 4th, 2019   No Comments   Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Special Needs

For children, especially those with developmental disabilities, neurological disorders, and other special needs, school should be a safe place. For several children with autism in North Florida, school became a place of physical, emotional, and for one autistic child, sexual abuse that went unreported.

New reports this week revealed allegations that teachers of special needs students in an Okaloosa County school subjected children in their care to horrible physical and emotional abuse. In another charge, a guidance counselor failed to report to authorities an allegation of sexual abuse.

The story revealed allegations that the special education teacher and two aides had been charged by Okaloosa County sheriff’s investigators for abusing the children with autism. It was alleged that the teacher and aides blew whistles in one child’s ears and locked several in darkened bathrooms.

Read the rest of this entry »



More permanent placements needed for Florida’s foster youth

January 9th, 2019   No Comments   Advocacy

A recent investigation by the Tampa Bay Times newspaper found that “thousands of Florida’s foster children were put at risk of further psychological damage by an overburdened system that repeatedly bounced them from home to home and family to family.”

According to Robin Rosenberg, deputy director of Florida’s Children First, too many children in our state are unnecessarily removed from their homes. Since 2013, the number of children in either foster homes or housed with relatives has risen significantly. Child advocates believe this surge in the number of youth needing placements has resulted in a decline in efforts to match children with the best placement situation to fit their needs. Children who are repeatedly moved from house to house will likely act out, only to find themselves moved again when they are not placed with a foster parent trained to deal with behavioral issues.

Read more about the Tampa Bay Times investigation here.



Newly-released Report Shows How Florida Compares to Other States in Outcomes of Youth Transitioning from Foster Care

December 18th, 2018   No Comments   Advocacy, Aging Out, Foster Care

On November 13, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released Fostering Youth Transitions, a report with the most comprehensive data ever collected across all 50 states to help illustrate how young people ages 14 and older are faring as they transition from foster care to adulthood. This first-of-its-kind report examines how children from foster care in Florida are handling the transition out of care in comparison with the rest of the country.

Florida’s Children First and Florida Youth SHINE have continuously worked to inform the public and legislators about the needs of the youth who are aging out of foster care. Read this informative op ed from FCF Executive Director Christina Spudeas in the Tallahassee Democrat to learn more.



Horrible Abuse of Orange Park Teen by His Own Mother and Grandmother

December 13th, 2018   No Comments   Abuse

The Associated Press recently reported that a 13-year-old Orange Park boy told police that his grandmother and his aunt beat him, locked him in a box and chained him to a couch for days without food. According to Local 10 News, “Orange Park police said the boy was treated in October for a severe injury to his genitals that he said he received jumping over a fence. But doctors in the Jacksonville suburb found other injuries, scars and burn marks and notified police.”

This horrific story is sadly another example of the extreme mistreatment of children by those who are supposed to be protecting them. Take the New York case of Judith Leekin. Although she was cited for abusing a child in 1980 in Queens, NY, Leekin was still permitted to adopt 11 disabled New York City foster and disabled children. She reportedly abused them in St. Lucie County, FL, more than a decade later, including beating, handcuffing, forcing them to sleep in a closet, keeping them from school and refusing them medical care.

Read the rest of this entry »



Orlando Sentinel: ‘Baby steps’ made to protect kids 20 years after Kayla McKean, 6, was murdered by father

November 27th, 2018   No Comments   Abuse, Foster Care, Privatization

Talenfeld Law Founder Howard Talenfeld shares insights on the deficiencies in our state’s foster care program in this article from the Orlando Sentinel, “‘Baby steps’ made to protect kids 20 years after Kayla McKean, 6, was murdered by father.”

According to Talenfeld, privatization of child-welfare services has resulted in more state dollars going toward administrative costs and less money is reaching the ground per capita per kid.

Read the entire story by clicking here.



Miami Herald: BSO could have intervened to protect this abused baby. It didn’t. She died violently.

November 5th, 2018   No Comments   Court Cases

This is yet another devastating example of the mishandling of a child’s safety when red flags had previously been raised about the child’s care. Talenfeld Law partner, and former BSO child abuse investigator, Stacie Schmerling discusses the recent lawsuit in this article from the Miami Herald.

Click here to view the full article.



Seeking attorneys who are interested in protecting the rights of children and disabled persons

September 5th, 2018   No Comments   Uncategorized

Does anyone know of a brilliant attorney who may even have some personal injury background who is looking for a position protecting the rights of children and disabled persons? If so, please contact Howard Talenfeld at howard@justiceforkids.us.