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Archive for January, 2010

Lawyers v. Guardians ad Litem: What is Best For a Foster Child in Florida Dependency Court?

What is the difference — if any — when a guardian ad litem investigates and advocates for a child in Florida dependency court, and an attorney who does so?

The Florida Bar’s Legislation Committee last month explored this issue — and a recommended Bar legislative position from the Legal Needs of Children Committee that suggested state funding for lawyers to represent select children in dependency courts.

After testimony from some involved, including judges and a former foster child, the committee recommended the proposal on a 5-1 vote.

It’s an important issue, said supporter Howard Talenfeld, chair of the Legal Needs of Children Committee. If the Legislature approves the measure, time spent by children in foster care could be reduced.

“Foster care is like being in the ocean,” Talenfeld was quoted in the Florida Bar News. “The longer children are there, the better the chance they’ll drown.” Read the Florida Bar News article here…

Child Advocate: Florida Adoption of Haiti Orphans May Be a Long Process

January 24th, 2010   4 Comments   Adoption

Legal declarations and parental rights are part of a long wait for those seeking to adopt children — including orphans arriving from the Haiti earthquake, Florida child advocate attorney Brian J. Cabrey, Esq., tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The touching images of Haitian children arriving on U.S. soil pulls at the heartstrings of many Americans, especially those who want to adopt children. But adoption experts say that compassion for the displaced children and the reality of child adoption – both in and outside of the United States – are two different things.

Even under usual circumstances there are enormous misconceptions about the intricacies of child adoption, experts say. And those misconceptions could explain the flood of offers to adopt children who have suffered immeasurable loss.

“People have to realize that there is often nothing fast-moving about the process of adoption, much less adoption of the children coming out of Haiti right now,” says Cabrey, a former senior attorney with the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) and board member of Florida’s Children First, a statewide child advocacy organization that seeks to serve foster, abused and neglected children. Read the entire article here…

Florida, Attorneys Provide Help to Haiti Earthquake Victims, Orphans

Child care advocates, attorneys and agencies across Florida are stepping up to provide assistance and guidance to victims and orphans from the Haiti earthquake — and those who want to help.

The state of Florida Department of Children and Families has posted a variety of resources on its Website. Visit DCF Haiti Earthquake Relief (http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/haitiInfo.shtml) to learn more.

The U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services hosted a recent workshop for those Haitians interested in gaining Temporary Protected Status, with members of the Miami-based Haitian Lawyers Association in attendance. Learn more by visiting their site at http://www.hlaonline.org/.

University of Miami Law School lawyers and students helped those seeking TPS fill out forms. Read here to find out what’s needed to properly fill out the documentation.

Listen to this WLRN-FM radio story on the process of applying for TPS status. Applicants have six months to apply for TPS status, beginning on January 21, 2010. Officials expect more than 200,000 applications.

Attorneys and advocates can visit the Florida Bar Association Website to find out how they can help. Others can visit the Miami Herald’s database of charities.