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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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Miami Herald: Reports of child neglect piled up. BSO declared the kids safe. Now the boys are dead.

July 8th, 2019   No Comments   Investigations, Protection

Too many children are dying and being seriously injured in Broward County that have had prior investigations and are known to BSO. It’s time for BSO to make children their FIRST priority, fill their open positions and reduce their caseloads. Or BSO should give the protective investigations function back to DCF.

Read more from the Miami Herald here.



Gainesville Sun: Children flee adoptive parents, describe home of horrors

June 21st, 2019   No Comments   Abuse, Adoption

As reported by the Gainesville Sun, ” two Gainesville children — ages 8 and 10 — who fled to safety last week say they were repeatedly hit, fed only bread and water along with table scraps, ‘drowned’ in a bathtub, and burned or shocked by their adoptive parents.” Read more by clicking here.



Talenfeld Law Attorneys Featured in 2019 Florida Super Lawyers Magazine Once Again

June 11th, 2019   No Comments   News & Events, Uncategorized

Talenfeld Law, the first law firm in Florida to focus exclusively on protecting the rights of physically and sexually abused, medically fragile, foster and other at-risk children, is proud to announce that the firm’s partners have been selected for inclusion in the 2019 edition of Florida Super Lawyers magazine. Firm founder Howard M. Talenfeld was named to the 2019 Florida Super Lawyers list and partner Stacie J. Schmerling was selected to the 2019 Florida Rising Stars list.

Super Lawyers, part of Thomson Reuters, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

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Local 10: Girl, 8, abused by adoptive family over several years, police say

June 11th, 2019   No Comments   Abuse

Firm founder Howard Talenfeld weighs in on this latest report and the failure to prioritize the safety of children in this story from Local 10 news

Click here to read more from Local 10.



The Florida Legislature Shines a Light to Stem Human Trafficking in Florida

Child advocates across Florida applaud the 2019 Florida Legislature for passing significant legislation that aids in the fight to prevent human trafficking. Sponsored  by Sen. Lauren Book and Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, the law would shine a bright light on the places where these heinous crimes are committed – many of which, sadly, could have been prevented.

This anti-human trafficking bill, HB 851, requires educating the employees of hotels, massage parlors, and adult theaters on how to spot the signs of trafficking and common practices. It calls for those employees who see evidence of these crimes to report suspicious activity to the confidential National Human Trafficking Hotline (888-373-7888).The law also reclassifies strip clubs, that employ underage victims who commonly come from the foster care system and overseas, only to become trapped by trafficking rings, as “adult theaters”.

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Nonprofit Industry Veteran Jaye Abbate Joins Florida’s Children First as Vice President of Communications and Community Relations

Florida’s Children First (FCF), a statewide advocacy organization focused on protecting the legal rights of at-risk and foster care children, is proud to announce the addition of Jaye Abbate as Vice President of Communications and Community Relations.

“We are delighted to welcome Jaye to the FCF team,” said Howard Talenfeld, President and Founder of Florida’s Children First. “She adds a new dimension to the organization that allows us to harness the power and passion of corporate partners, community advocates and concerned citizens who want to give a hand up as we collectively strive to put all of Florida’s children first.”

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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.

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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.

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