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Welcome to Florida Child Advocate

October 17th, 2013   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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Florida’s Children First to Host Broward Child Advocacy Awards Feb. 23 in Fort Lauderdale

January 31st, 2017   No Comments   Advocacy

Florida’s Children First, the state’s premier organization helping protect the rights of foster and at-risk children, will hold its 15th Anniversary Celebration of the Broward Child Advocacy Awards and Reception in February.

The event will be held at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts Riverview Ballroom (201 SW 5th Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 33312) on Thursday, February 23, 2017 from 5:50 p.m. to 8 p.m. Click here to register.

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Child Abuse Attorney: Girl’s Suicide an Example of Failed Child Welfare Privatization

Florida child advocates and attorneys who represent children raped and abused in the child welfare system are struggling to comprehend how and why a 14-year-old girl, who reportedly had been sexually abused while in state care, hanged herself while streaming the event on Facebook Live this week. “I have to bury my baby,” her mother, Gina Alexis, said through sobs.

Screenshot 2017-01-26 at 9.22.56 AMIt’s another example of how Florida’s experiment with privatization of its child welfare system is a failure, said Howard Talenfeld and Stacie Schmerling. The Fort Lauderdale attorneys are representing Alexis, mother of Naika Venant.

During a press conference at their law office, Ms. Alexis cried, “I trusted Florida foster care. Instead she kills herself on Facebook.”

Some blame social media. Talenfeld told those seeking answers to look elsewhere. “We first need to look more than anywhere else at what is going on in our backyards in Florida,” Talenfeld told the media gathered in his Fort Lauderdale law office. “Facebook is a method of communication, a method where the message was sent, but the reality is Facebook didn’t rape her. Facebook didn’t fail to provide her services. Facebook didn’t take her into care promising her a better life.”

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US: Florida Department of Children & Families Needs Foster Kids Plan

January 20th, 2017   No Comments   Uncategorized

A study from the Children’s Bureau, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has found that the Florida Department of Children and Families is underperforming related its care of foster children in several critical areas. HHS reviewed 80 such cases and has given the state 90 days to deliver a plan to improve its delivery of care.

From removal of kids from homes under the order of child welfare agencies “without first providing appropriate services and were lax in following safety plans” to “struggling to provide counseling and therapy for every foster kid who needs them,” state services were found wanting, according to a Tampa Bay Times article on the study.

“This holds up a light to the people in the state and helps us see how our agency is doing,” Robin Rosenberg, deputy director of Florida’s Children First, told the Times. “For so many areas to be falling below standard is a wakeup call.”



Children’s Rights Attorney Barri A. Reisch Joins Fort Lauderdale-based Talenfeld Law

December 14th, 2016   No Comments   Abuse, Advocacy

Barri A. Reisch, Esq., has joined Talenfeld Law, the Fort Lauderdale-based law firm that is Florida’s only firm dedicated exclusively to protecting abused, disabled and injured children. Reisch joins the firm as an associate and will focus her practice on foster care and disabled persons damages, civil rights, personal injury, and child welfare litigation.

“Barri’s commitment to child advocacy makes her the perfect fit for our firm,” said Howard Talenfeld, firm managing partner.

barri-r-bioWhile studying at Emory University School of Law, Reisch was a part-time legal intern for the Barton Child Law and Policy Center’s Appeal for Youth Clinic. In this role, she provided post-conviction relief for former foster children as well as representation for foster children in administrative disciplinary hearings before several Georgia County School Boards. Additionally, she served as a clerk for Judge Clarence F. Seeliger in the DeKalb County Superior Court of Georgia.

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Child Abuse Attorney Letter to Florida Bar Applauds Children’s Services Council

November 28th, 2016   No Comments   Advocacy, Commentary

Fort Lauderdale Children’s rights attorney Howard Talenfeld, who exclusively represents children abused, disabled and injured in foster care and other child welfare settings in personal injury and damages cases in Miami, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, and throughout Florida, recently had a letter published by the Florida Bar.

In his letter, Talenfeld, who also is the founder and president of Florida’s Children First, the leading statewide advocacy organization for at-risk children, wrote how the Children’s Services Council of Broward County recently took a significant step in its mission to protect at-risk children. The organization approved action needed to hire attorneys for children in the Broward child welfare system.

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Young Man Dies at Broward Youth Treatment Center

October 14th, 2016   No Comments   Abuse, Advocacy

Child advocates and attorneys who fight to protect from abuse teens and youths in the Florida juvenile justice system are watching closely the case of a teen who died at a drug treatment center in Pembroke Pines. The youth’s case also has raised the interest of police and state juvenile justice administrators.

The 17-year-old boy was housed at the center for delinquent youths, having been ordered there by the courts. The private “Broward Youth Treatment Center” is contracted by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.

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Autistic Miami Man Incompetent to Stand Trial on Charges of Child-Porn

October 1st, 2016   No Comments   Uncategorized

“Tony Rodriguez, an autistic Miami man with an IQ of 73, is no longer a criminal defendant facing trial on charges of downloading child porn. The 25-year-old is finally free after two years under indictment, thanks to a federal judge who found him “incompetent” to assist in his own defense. Rodriguez’s mother, Maria, cried in court Wednesday when U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro asked her how she felt about the decision and about placing her son in a group home in Homestead that “addresses behavioral excesses” under the supervision of the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities,” according to the Miami Herald.

Read the entire story here.



3 Accused of Beating Mentally Impaired Man at State Hospital in Pembroke Pines

As a children’s rights law firm representing Florida foster children and others at risk of child abuse, child sex abuse, and other harm, Talenfeld Law is aware of the perils society’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens face. But developmentally disabled adults are not immune from physical harm.

In Pembroke Pines, three former employees of the South Florida State Hospital have been accused of beating a mentally impaired patient, according to reporting of court documents. According to the Sun-Sentinel, the plaintiff, identified as C.S., was 25 when three employees in 2014 tried to restrain him after C.S. allegedly struck a female staffer, who declined to pursue charges.

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Fort Lauderdale Child Abuse Attorney to Sponsor ‘For The Public Good’ Event

September 13th, 2016   No Comments   Advocacy

Talenfeld Law, the premier law firm exclusively representing at-risk children and developmentally disabled adults in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm Beach and throughout Florida, will be a major sponsor for the Legal Aid Service of Broward County (LAS) and Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida (CCLA) annual fundraising event, For the Public Good.

The event will be held Thursday, October 27, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six in Fort Lauderdale.

The partners at Talenfeld Law have long been involved with Children’s Advocacy Programs at LAS and CCLA, including the Tracey McPharlin Pro Bono Dependency Project. As one of Ms. McPharlin’s former law partners, Howard Talenfeld, was a founder of the Project and has supported the initiative since its inception. Through this sponsorship commitment, Talenfeld is challenging others to match the contribution or make a commitment to the children of our community.

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Florida Children’s Rights Attorney Names to List of Best Lawyers in America

September 10th, 2016   No Comments   Advocacy

Fort Lauderdale-based child abuse attorney Howard M. Talenfeld was recently selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2017 in the field of Civil Rights Law. As the preeminent children’s rights attorney, Talenfeld’s firm, Talenfeld Law, exclusively represents at-risk children and developmentally disabled adults in Miami, West Palm Beach, and throughout Florida who are the victims of physical abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, and other harm by state agencies and private contractors.

First published in 1983 and based on peer-review evaluation, Best Lawyers is the definitive guide to legal excellence. The 2017 edition analyzed some 7.3 million votes and naming almost 55,000 lawyers nationwide to the list.

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Hearing Officer Chides Agency for Persons with Disabilities for Declining Child’s Care

September 5th, 2016   No Comments   Advocacy

In its article, “The machinations used to deny care to one disabled foster kid,” the Miami Herald outlined how the Agency for Persons with Disabilities worked to decline paying for services for a 16-year-old under the state’s care. The child’s guardians requested the agency pay for the child to be enrolled in a suitable residential program. Employees agreed. An APD Miami supervisor overruled them, “and then sought to cover up the prior recommendation,” according to an opinion from a hearing officer.

“The agency was instructed that this manner of conducting reviews, and the … appearance of a deliberate attempt to conceal information from the hearing officer and [S.J.] was strictly unacceptable, and was not to occur again.”

To Fort Lauderdale child abuse attorneys and those who work to protect Florida’s vulnerable It’s vital that organizations charged with providing care for the state’s at-risk youth find ways to provide care – not avoid delivering it.



Soccer Coach’s Arrest for Alleged Teen Sex Abuse Reveals Need for Vigilance

August 31st, 2016   No Comments   Abuse, Advocacy

When a Plantation soccer coach was arrested this month on multiple charges of sexual battery on a minor, the case revealed again how parents must be alert to the sexual abuse even “trusted” adults can perpetrate on young victims.

The victim was in her teens when the alleged sex occurred several times between 2003 and 2007. The accused abuser, Juan W. Ramos, 43, has been over the past decade a school employee and soccer coach at American Heritage and other schools.

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