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Welcome to Florida Child Advocate

September 27th, 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 »



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.



Veteran Prosecutor Patyl A. Oflazian Joins Talenfeld Law

October 12th, 2018   No Comments   News & Events

Patyl A. Oflazian has joined Talenfeld Law, Florida’s only law firm dedicated exclusively to protecting abused, disabled and injured children. Oflazian joins the firm as a senior associate and will focus her practice on sexual abuse, wrongful death, foster care and disabled person’s damages, civil rights, personal injury, and child welfare litigation.

“Patyl is a true advocate for children who brings great courtroom knowledge and experience to our legal team,” said Howard Talenfeld, firm managing partner. “She was a powerhouse in the office of the Broward County State Attorney and will use her extensive trial experience in prosecuting sex crimes and murders to obtain justice for abused and disabled children, and help us in our continued efforts to improve our state’s child welfare system.” Read the rest of this entry »



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.



Talenfeld Law’s Howard Talenfeld Selected for Inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2019

August 15th, 2018   No Comments   News & Events

Howard M. Talenfeld, a preeminent children’s rights attorney, was recently selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers™ in America 2019 in the fields of Civil Rights Law and Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs. Talenfeld is the Founder and Managing Partner of 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.

Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed; therefore inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor.

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Howard Talenfeld Quoted in Miami Herald Article on Florida’s Child Protection System

Child advocates in our state continue to warn us about the problems that have resulted from Florida’s failed experiment with privatization in our state’s child protection system. This article from the Miami Herald details those failures, including commentary from children’s rights attorney Howard Talenfeld.

Howard comments: “DCF continues to be plagued by many of the same systemic failures that have bedeviled the agency for generations: low pay and crippling turnover among investigators and caseworkers, a dearth of beds at foster homes, especially for kids with emotional or behavioral illnesses, and chronic physical and sexual abuse at shelters.”

Read the entire story by clicking here



Children’s Rights Attorney Howard Talenfeld Receives 2018 Medal of Honor Award from The Florida Bar Foundation

July 20th, 2018   No Comments   News & Events

Nationally-known children’s rights attorney Howard Talenfeld was recognized by The Florida Bar Foundation as the recipient of the 2018 Medal of Honor Award for a Lawyer. The Medal of Honor Award is the highest award given by The Florida Bar Foundation and recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves through their exceptional achievements in improving the administration of justice in Florida. Talenfeld received this recognition at The Florida Bar Foundation’s 42nd Annual Reception and Dinner on June 14 at the Hilton Bonnet Creek in Orlando, site of the 2018 Florida Bar Annual Convention.

Known as one of the nation’s preeminent children’s rights attorneys and advocates, Talenfeld is the founder of Talenfeld Law, the first law firm in Florida to focus exclusively on protecting the rights of physically and sexually abused children, developmentally disabled children and other at-risk youth.

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Talenfeld Law Partner Stacie J. Schmerling Selected to 2018 Florida Rising Stars List

June 29th, 2018   No Comments   Uncategorized

Founder Howard Talenfeld Selected to 2018 Florida Super Lawyers List

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  – 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 two of the firm’s partners have been included in the 2018 edition of Florida Super Lawyers magazine. Firm partner Stacie J. Schmerling was selected to the 2018 Rising Stars list and founder Howard M. Talenfeld was named on the 2018 Florida Super Lawyers list.

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Child Advocates Raise Concern Over Care of Migrant Children Taken From Their Parents

June 22nd, 2018   No Comments   Uncategorized

Child advocates are very worried about the thousands of migrant children who have been taken from their parents. We know that children separated from their parents at young ages are at substantial risk of serious emotional harm.

Read more in this ABC Action News story by clicking here.



Children’s Rights Lawyer Stacie J. Schmerling Receives AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell

May 30th, 2018   No Comments   Uncategorized

Stacie J. Schmerling, a children’s rights lawyer and partner with Talenfeld Law, has earned an AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating, the highest peer rating standard awarded by Martindale-Hubbell®. Schmerling is a former veteran child welfare investigator and has been involved in many significant, multimillion dollar cases in the area of civil rights and child welfare.