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Archive for February, 2010

Herald Column: Give Vulnerable, Foster Kids a Voice in the System

By Howard Talenfeld

The most significant way Florida can improve the lives of at-risk children is to provide each of them with legal representation, something currently missing from our judicial system.

This spring, Florida lawmakers are expected to take up consensus legislation crafted by the Florida Bar and Florida’s Children First that provides attorneys to children with critical needs and to protect the rights of all children in dependency proceedings.

The Children’s Legal Representation Act, as it’s called, also gives the courts the ability and authority to appoint state-provided counsel for children, whether they be paid or not. (more…)

Head of Legal Services: Offer to Help Miami, Florida Poor

February 21st, 2010   No Comments   News & Events

Garrett J. Biondo, President of Legal Services of Greater Miami, recently today commented in the Miami Herald about Leonard Pitts Jr.’s Jan. 31 column, “Public Silence Greets Poor’s Powerlessness.”

Biondo comments that Bitts “rightly calls attention to the lack of outrage over the deplorable comments by South Carolina’s Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer regarding the poor. Pitts’ piece is a well-reasoned call to action for the millions of people in this country who live in poverty.

“I was particularly struck by his salient question: Who speaks for the poor? Clearly, too few. Thankfully, there are organizations in South Florida that are committed to providing a voice for those who sit silent on the edges of our community. One bright light in our community is Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. (LSGMI).

“LSGMI is the largest provider of broad-based civil legal services for the poor in Miami-Dade. For more than 40 years, its staff attorneys have shunned lucrative jobs in private practice to successfully provide innovative and effective free legal services to poverty-stricken families throughout South Florida.”

Read his entire column here.

Gov. Crist 2010 Budget Boosts Funding for Florida Children, Families, Foster Kids and Aged-Out Graduates

February 18th, 2010   1 Comment   Foster Care, Funding

At a time when tough economics call for fiscal belt-tightening across the state, Gov. Charlie Crist this year has shown tremendous resolve and vision.

This year, the Governor has recommended $77.5 million to support a variety of Florida Department of Children and Families initiatives designed to protect current foster children and those graduating out of care.

Attorneys, guardians, advocates and others who provide legal representation for these citizens laud the governor for his recommendations.

According to a document from the DCF, the governor’s budget proposals are anticipated to protect critical services for vulnerable Floridians.

“We are grateful that Governor Charlie Crist places such a high priority on continuing DCF’s progress in increasing adoptions of children in foster care, keeping children and families together and safe from abuse, preventing domestic violence and homelessness, and providing treatment for mental illness and substance abuse,” noted DCF Secretary George H. Sheldon. (more…)

Florida’s Children First to Honor Attorney & Advocate Jesse H. Diner at Broward Reception Feb. 24 at Tower Club

Florida Bar President Jesse H. Diner Instrumental in Seeking Legal Representation for Foster Children

Florida’s Children First (FCF), the statewide legal advocacy organization focused on protecting the legal rights of at-risk and foster care children, will honor at its upcoming Child Advocate Awards and Reception Mr. Jesse H. Diner, President of the Florida Bar, who has made advancing the rights of children a major emphasis in Florida.

jesse-dinerFCF’s annual Broward event will recognize Mr. Diner for his efforts supporting legislation designed to obtain counsel children in foster care and the dependency system, supporting the recommendations of the Florida Bar’s Legal Needs of Children Committee. He has championed the passage of legislation that would provide attorneys for foster children, ensuring foster children receive “the same zealous advocacy adult clients expect of their lawyers,” he has written.

He also has supported Florida Bar’s efforts in recruiting pro bono lawyers to represent these children. (more…)

80 Attend Legal Aid Service of Broward County and Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida ‘NEXT Event’

February 5th, 2010   No Comments   Fundraising & Support

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – Legal Aid Service of Broward County and Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida’s newest organization – NEXT (Next EXecutive Team) – welcomed 80 guests including several members of the judiciary to a special Groundhog Day mixer at YOLO in downtown Fort Lauderdale on February 2, 2010.

The event was sponsored by the law firm of  Colodny Fass Talenfeld Karlinsky & Abate P.A. In addition to an exciting evening of new friends and networking, event attendees enjoyed learning more about NEXT – a joint project between the Legal Aid Service of Broward County and Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida.

“I’m glad to see lawyers and business people coming out so strongly to show support for Legal Aid and NEXT,” said Howard Talenfeld, Esq., an honorary guest and speaker, and a notable advocate for children and the elderly in South Florida.

“I think there are many of us in our community who really appreciate the important and much needed services Legal Aid provides.”

(more…)