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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 Honors Miami-Dade State Attorney, Senator and Public Defender’s Office at its Miami Awards Reception

Florida’s Children First (FCF), the statewide advocacy organization focused on protecting the legal rights of at-risk and foster care children, had a very successful Miami-Dade awards reception last week.

Dozens of community and business leaders, and all other persons concerned about the future of Florida’s abused, abandoned and neglected children, were there to honor the 2016 award recipients. This year’s Champion for Children award went to Sen. Anitere Flores, who has been an active advocate since her teen years and has been in public service since 2004. Receiving Child Advocate of the Year Awards were Katherine Fernandez Rundle of the State Attorney’s Office and Carlos J. Martinez of the Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s Office. Additionally, Edward Cody was honored as the 2016 Youth Advocate of the Year for Miami.

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Foster Care Documentary Shows the Need for Reform of Florida’s Privatized Child Welfare System

April 15th, 2016   No Comments   Abuse, Foster Care

Florida’s privatized system of foster care is still failing our children.  This documentary, which aired at the Palm Beach film festival, tells the story of many children who have fallen through the cracks of Florida’s experiment and who have been physically, sexually and emotionally abused in the system that was supposed to protect them. It begins the discussion as to what we must do next to protect our state’s children.

 

Foster Shock Documentary Trailer from Brian Bayerl on Vimeo.



Talenfeld Law Expands to Central Florida; Attorney Lisa M. Elliott to Head Children’s Rights Office in Daytona Beach

Talenfeld Law, Florida’s only law firm dedicated exclusively to protecting abused, disabled and injured children, has opened an office in Daytona Beach. Attorney Lisa M. Elliott will lead the office, and becomes the firm’s fifth lawyer. Ms. Elliott will now devote her practice to protecting these very special children throughout Central and Northern Florida.

Talenfeld - Lisa Elliott“We are thrilled that Lisa has joined our firm and will allow us to handle more cases and better serve children throughout Florida,” said Howard Talenfeld, the firm’s managing partner. “Lisa’s skills, reputation and advocacy for vulnerable children and her connection to Central Florida’s communities make her an invaluable addition to our firm.”

Mr. Talenfeld first met Ms. Elliott while working together with her on civil rights and damages cases with the late Gainesville lawyer and well-known child advocate Gloria Fletcher. While at her prominent Gainesville law firm, Ms. Elliott represented children who had been injured or abused in the Florida child welfare system, and advocated for clients in personal injury claims and other civil matters. She opened her own practice in 2015.

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Child Advocate: Attorneys’ Work Pays Off As State Settles Child Medicaid Class-Action Suit

April 9th, 2016   No Comments   Commentary, Court Cases

Attorneys who claimed millions of Florida children had failed to receive medical check-ups under Medicaid reached a milestone settlement with the state in the class-action lawsuit. The agreement followed federal lawsuits that claimed the children didn’t receive medical or dental care. In 2014, the judge in the case agreed with the plaintiffs and ordered both sides into mediation. The news is a significant win for the state’s neglected at-risk and foster children.

The attorneys representing children in this case, Stuart Singer and Carl Goldfarb with law firm Boies Schiller & Flexner, were presented by child advocate attorney Howard Talenfeld with the Florida’s Children First Child Advocates of the Year in a presentation earlier this year for their commitment to the decade-long case.

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Florida Foster Child Abuse Lawyer Howard Talenfeld Receives UM Law Alumni Achievement Award

More than 150 local attorneys and officials were in attendance this week to celebrate the awarding of the University of Miami Law Alumni Association’s Alumni Achievement Award to Howard M. Talenfeld. A leading Florida foster care abuse attorney and life-long advocate for children’s rights, Talenfeld was recognized for his tireless efforts on behalf of society’s most vulnerable citizens.

The award was presented by Fort Lauderdale attorney and 2015 award recipient Bruce Lyons, Miami attorney and president of the Law Alumni Association Edward R. Shohat, and University of Miami School of Law Dean Patricia D. White.

“Howard was a natural for this award. We’re very proud of his pioneering work for children’s causes,” said Shohat. “The association represents over 30,000 alumni around the world, and Howard is an excellent ambassador for the school.”

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Florida Advocates’ Successful Push for Florida Foster Kids Gets Tuition Exemptions for College, Graduate Education

When a former foster child from Sarasota was accepted to Florida International University Law School, he wondered how he’d pay for it. After all, foster families often don’t have the money for such expenses. While state law granted tuition exemptions for foster kids seeking undergraduate and graduate educations, the State University System of Florida Board of Governors (BOG) refused to require state schools to grant exemptions.

That’s changing. After four years of work by Florida Youth Shine, Florida’s Children First, and other advocacy groups, committed lawmakers, and pro bono legal counsel that brought an administrative challenge, the BOG has directed state universities to grant exemptions to accepted students from foster care. A full repeal of the rule is said to be under consideration.

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University of Miami Law School Alumni to Honor Children’s Rights Lawyer Howard Talenfeld

March 3rd, 2016   No Comments   Advocacy, News & Events

Howard M. Talenfeld, a leading Florida foster care abuse attorney and life-long advocate for children’s rights, will be honored with the University of Miami Law Alumni Association’s Alumni Achievement Award at its annual Broward County Judicial Reception. The event will be held on Wednesday, March 23, 2016, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., in the 7th floor ballroom of the 110 Tower (110 Southeast 6th St., Fort Lauderdale 33301).

Talenfeld graduated from the University of Miami School of Law in 1979 and has spent much of his career defending the rights of and seeking damages for children and the developmentally disabled harmed in cases of child abuse, child sexual abuse, and denial of benefits.

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Fort Lauderdale Event to Celebrate Florida’s Foster Children and Advocates

This Thursday, dedicated South Florida child advocates who fight to protect the state’s most vulnerable foster children and at-risk kids will gather for the Broward Child Advocacy Awards & Reception supporting Florida’s Children First, the state’s leading child advocacy organization.

The event will be held at The Riverside Hotel (620 East Las Olas Blvd. Fort Lauderdale, 33301) on Thursday, February 25 from 5:30pm- 7:30pm.

Register here. Sponsorships are still available.

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Success Stories of Florida Youth Shine’s Former Foster Children

February 19th, 2016   No Comments   Adoption, Advocacy, Florida Youth Shine

In its 10 years serving Florida’s at-risk foster children, Florida Youth Shine has helped thousands of current and former foster children find their way – and serve as examples for other kids going through the state child welfare system. One such success story is Janice Goldsberry.

Janice with FYSNow 22 years old, Janice was in foster care for 11 years, from the age of 7 until she “aged out” at 18. She was often separated from her two siblings, had been in 15 homes that she can recall, 11 middle and high schools, and was the victim of the emotional trauma common to foster children.

Though her feelings of emotional neglect and depression continue, Janice still is a success story.

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Florida Claims Bills Seek to Help Abused Children Who Wait Years for Damage Awards

Children across Florida who have suffered rape, child sexual abuse, child abuse, and other personal injury often wait years to receive damage awarded by the court or juries – if they ever receive the money at all. Claims bills now before the Florida Legislature could make money available to help these victims receive the money they desperately need.

In one example, a Wellington boy, 9, was sexually assaulted by a foster child his parents had agreed to raise, not knowing the boy had suffered sexual abuse and had become a child-on-child predator. A Palm Beach County jury in 2013 found that the Florida Department of Children and Families was negligent and awarded the boy $5 million for damages and what could be a lifetime of treatment and therapy.

He’s yet to receive any money. “He’s living a life of paralysis,” said Howard Talenfeld, the attorney representing the now 22-year-old man.

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Florida’s Children First to Honor ‘Youth Advocate of the Year’ on Feb. 26 in Fort Lauderdale

Tiervondria “Tia” McCall is an amazing, and inspiring young lady, even though she struggled with stability and safety for most of her life. She will be honored as the Youth Advocate of the Year at the Florida’s Children First Broward Child Advocacy Awards & Reception. The event will be held Thursday, February 25, 2016, from 5:30pm- 7:30pm at The Riverside Hotel (620 East Las Olas Blvd.) in Fort Lauderdale.

Click here to register or learn more.

Tia and her brother lived with her mother and stepdad until the age of eight. After her stepdad died she was separated from her brother but eventually reunited in the care of her brother’s grandmother, until the age of 17.

Throughout this time, Tia suffered from verbal and physical abuse often witnessing drug use in her home. She could have easily taken the wrong path but she focused her time and effort working hard in school for a better life for herself and her younger brother.

Today, she is the model of success. For the past five years, Tia has grown to be an amazing leader in Florida Youth SHINE, having become the youngest president of a Florida Youth SHINE chapter at age 15. She has served as President of the Broward chapter for the past three years and has lead, recruited and impacted youth around the state.

She is now 18 years old, a freshman at Broward College studying Criminal Justice, works part-time and interns at Florida’s Children First.

Join Tia and other honorees who do so much for Florida’s abuse and injured children. Honorees include Champion for Children Dr. Frederick Lippman; and Child Advocates of the Year Stuart Singer & Carl Goldfarb with law firm Boise Schiller & Flexner.



Florida Supreme Court Rules for Lawyers for Foster Children

When the Florida Supreme Court issued its Juvenile Rules Opinion this week on requiring attorneys for Florida foster children with special needs, it was the successful culmination of a 10-year effort by the state’s leading foster child advocates, including the Florida Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program and Florida’s Children First (FCF), as well as the Legal Needs of Children Committee of The Florida Bar.

The Court ruled to implement legislation requiring legal representation for at-risk children facing administrative hearings. Read the ruling here.

Since the 1990s, FCF, the state’s premier child advocacy organization, and the GAL have worked closely advocating the legislation. They two organizations jointly submitted comments to the court supporting advancement of state legislation providing for attorneys ad litem and other programs to require legal representation for children in the child welfare system.

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