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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.

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The State of Illinois has Been Collecting Foster Children’s Benefits to Reimburse Itself; New Legislation Aims to Move the Money to the Children

September 2nd, 2021   No Comments   Foster Care

The state of Illinois has been collecting the financial benefits for abused, neglected and abandoned children in foster care as state revenue rather than providing the benefits to the children. Last year, the benefits collected totaled over $14.2 million from sources such as disabilities or monies owed deceased parents from places like social security or veterans’ benefits. Many of the children are unaware of the benefits they qualify for because state agencies manage and collect the sums before the children ever find out. In 2018, the state of Illinois collected $13 million from foster children’s benefits to reimburse itself for things like food, clothing, and medical care. “The state already has a responsibility to provide those things, and it does not have to take this money,” said Congressman Danny Davis, who has proposed legislation that would allow the benefits to accumulate in an account that the children could access upon leaving the system.

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Howard Talenfeld Selected as an Honoree in South Florida Business & Wealth’s Legal Awards

August 13th, 2021   No Comments   News & Events

The Justice for Kids Division of Kelley Kronenberg is pleased to announce that Partner Howard Talenfeld has been selected as an Honoree in South Florida Business & Wealth’s First-Annual Legal Awards.

South Florida Business & Wealth (SFBW) is South Florida’s premier business and lifestyle magazine serving Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. SFBW will host their first annual Legal Awards to celebrate the accomplishments, acumen, and dedication of the top-flight attorneys in the region. Honorees will be celebrated at an awards ceremony held on Thursday, November 4, 2021, from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM.

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Florida Law Enforcement Acts Swiftly to Apprehend a Therapist for Sexually Abusing a Child

August 12th, 2021   No Comments   Sexual Abuse

Sixty-year-old Robert Batie worked as a Psychotherapist at a counseling center located in Flagler County, Florida.  During his time there, Batie used his position as a trusted counselor to engage in several unlawful acts of sexual abuse, including sexual molestation of a minor.  Fortunately, the courageous victim reported the incident to the Flagler County Sherriff’s Office (FCSO) and the Sherriff immediately initiated their investigation into Batie.  FCSO soon discovered that Batie left Flagler County and relocated to Daytona Beach, Florida.

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WESH 2: Foster dad accused of abusing 4 children ordered back to jail

July 27th, 2021   No Comments   Abuse, Sexual Abuse

As reported by WESH 2 news in Orlando, a foster father accused of raping and molesting a young girl in his care is now facing additional charges involving a second young victim.

Read the full story here. 

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Another Death of a Child Known to DCF

On November 6, 2020, Florida lost another child that had been repeatedly involved with the Department of Children and Families (DCF). 22-month-old Rashid Bryant was pronounced dead at Miami Jackson North Medical Center. The cause? Complications of acute and chronic blunt force injuries, attributable to “parental neglect,” according to the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner. Read more from the Miami Herald.

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Children’s Rights Lawyer Howard Talenfeld to Chair Florida Bar Legal Needs of Children Committee for a Third Term

June 11th, 2021   No Comments   News & Events

Howard M. Talenfeld, a respected children’s rights attorney and Business Unit Leader of Justice for Kids, a division of Kelley Kronenberg, has been named Chair of The Florida Bar Legal Needs of Children Committee, as appointed by Bar President Michael G. Tanner. This is Talenfeld’s third appointment as Committee Chair, having served in the role from 2009-2010 and 2020-2021.

 

The Legal Needs of Children Committee was established to find ways to implement the 2002 recommendations of The Florida Bar Commission on the Legal Needs of Children. This report is focused on ensuring that children in state custody receive the best legal representation possible. 

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Inspiring Story Told by Former Foster Care Child Who Was Abused and Neglected

June 2nd, 2021   No Comments   Foster Care, Sexual Abuse

Kenisha E. Anthony has become an agent for change within the foster care system.  She began her journey as a “ward of the state” when she was only four (4) years old.  Her parents struggled with drug addiction and Kenisha was taken from them.  She would then be placed in seven (7) different homes until finally “aging out” of the system at eighteen (18) years old.  Despite her optimism that things would get better with each home, Kenisha suffered terrible abuse and neglect.  The foster care system failed to protect Kenisha from sexual abuse and other dangers that they are required to prevent.  In the book, “Labeled: Ward of the State,” Kenisha writes her story and details her experiences in these homes.

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DCFS Criticized for Not Protecting LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care in Recent Report from Auditor General

May 26th, 2021   No Comments   Foster Care

The State of Illinois’ Office of the Auditor General recently published a performance audit report detailing the Department of Children and Family Services’ (DCFS) care of LGBTQ youth. The children are in care because they have been abused and neglected. The report finds  LGBTQ youth in DCFS care are ostracized and bullied. Some foster kids have described instances during which LGBTQ youth were kicked out of a foster home by the foster parents for coming out as gay or bisexual. Equally, LGBTQ foster parents do not believe they are supported, depriving the youth from a potential home. Moreover, the position of DCFS LGBTQ Coordinator was vacant for an entire year during the audit period. Read more here.

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Northern Illinois Academy to Shutdown Permanently Following an Investigation Over Allegations of Child-on-child Sexual Abuse, Treatment & Safety Concerns

May 19th, 2021   No Comments   Abuse

A residential school operated by Sequel Youth and Family Services is set to permanently shutdown its operations. Northern Illinois Academy (NIA), located in Aurora, Illinois, is an 87-bed facility that receives funding from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS). Children suffering from mental illness, autism, mood disorders, and/or developmental delays were sent to the facility for treatment. According to a recent report based on an investigation conducted by Equip for Equality’s Abuse Investigation Unit, NIA and its parent company, Sequel Youth and Family Services, are unwilling to provide sufficient resources to resolve the existing treatment and safety concerns. These identified problems include a lack of meaningful programing, unsafe restraint practices, problems with de-briefing, failure to identify/report incidents of restraints and seclusion, inaccurate reporting of incidents, complaints regarding time youth spend in their rooms, restricting residents from communication devices, and significant program failures in the Blackhawk unit.

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Kelley Kronenberg Attorney Julianna B. Walo Appointed to Illinois State Bar Association Delivery of Legal Services Committee

May 3rd, 2021   No Comments   News & Events

Kelley Kronenberg is pleased to announce that Attorney Julianna B. Walo has been appointed to the Illinois State Bar Association, Delivery of Legal Services Committee.

The mission of the Standing Committee on Delivery of Legal Services is to encourage and support the most effective means to deliver legal services, including: making legal services easier to access, more affordable and more readily available to low-and-moderate-income individuals; to develop and sponsor programming and resources for the profession and the public; to maintain liaison relationships with other ISBA and external entities; and to increase pro bono participation and innovation.

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In Memory of a Foster Child that Died a Year Ago After a Chokehold, Michigan is to Ban the Use of Restraints on Children Living in Group Homes

April 30th, 2021   No Comments   Abuse, Foster Care

On April 29, 2020, 16-year-old Cornelius Fredrick  threw a sandwich at another child during lunch at Lakeside Academy, a Sequel Youth and Family Services facility for at risk children in Michigan. In response to the sandwich incident, seven adult male staff members held little Cornelius on the floor for more than 10 minutes, putting weight on his legs and torso. Cornelius died two days later at a hospital. He was a foster child whose mother had died four years prior.

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Current Florida policy leaves hundreds of foster children without Medicaid coverage

Until recently, the state of Florida has continued to abandon foster children who had already been abused and neglected, even after they left state care, by improperly removing 1,730 former foster children from Medicaid. Former foster children, under federal law, remain Medicaid eligible until age 26. However, a current Florida policy requires all former foster children to reapply for Medicaid at age 22, leaving hundreds of young adults without coverage.

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