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Archive for December, 2011

NYTimes: $68 Million Damages Settlement Proposed in Florida, NY Adoption Abuse Case

December 30th, 2011   No Comments   Abuse, Adoption, Court Cases

A damage award settlement is being discussed in a case that’s shaken the Florida and New York social services arena for foster, adoptive and disabled children.

In “one of the most disturbing child welfare fraud cases in New York City in recent years,” Judith Leekin “used four aliases to adopt the children, who had physical or developmental disabilities, including autism and retardation, and later moved them to Florida. The children were caged, restrained with plastic ties and handcuffs, beaten with sticks and hangers, and kept out of school, according to court papers. An 11th child disappeared while in Ms. Leekin’s care and is presumed dead,” according to the New York Times.

Florida children’s rights attorney Howard Talenfeld is handling the case.

Hollywood Director Tyler Perry to Alleged Penn State Sex Abuse Victim: ‘You’re a Survivor’

December 14th, 2011   No Comments   Abuse, News & Events

From South Florida to State College to around the world, child advocates and others have been transfixed and disgusted by allegations of sexual abuse against Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. One such person is Hollywood’s Tyler Perry, who recently wrote a letter in Newsweek magazine to a young boy involved in the scandal. In his letter, Perry revealed his own story, and told the boy he isn’t a victim – but a survivor. Read Perry’s letter here.

Tyler Perry

In response, a therapist from Minnesota wrote a letter of thanks to Perry. In the letter, the therapist wrote, “…As a therapist, I’ve seen shame and self-blame experienced by abuse victims who become survivors by acknowledging the abuse. Such disclosures are momentous acts of bravery and the first step in healing. I hope Perry’s words encourage more people to disclose their abuse and help decrease the stigmatization of survivors.”

Florida Foster Care, Child Advocacy Attorney Named ‘Most Effective Lawyer’

December 10th, 2011   No Comments   Advocacy, News & Events

Howard Talenfeld, a partner in the foster care / disabled persons practice with Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate P.A., in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, recently was named a Pro Bono Finalist in the Most Effective Lawyers 2011 by the Daily Business Review.

The publication reviewed the case of Markus Kim, a former New York City foster child who was swindled by his adoptive parents out of $400,000.

“It was the only money he had in the world and he was now destitute,” said a lawyer from New York Legal Aid. Read the Daily Business Review story here.


Advocacy Group Florida’s Children First Honors Community Heroes at Palm Beach Foster Children Event

December 2nd, 2011   No Comments   Advocacy, Fundraising & Support

Florida’s Children First, a statewide organization dedicated to protecting foster children and other at-risk youth, recognized Palm Beach County individuals for their tireless work to advocate for the state’s most vulnerable citizens at its annual Palm Beach Fundraising and Awards Reception at Boca Raton’s Bridge Hotel November 29.

Jim Sackett, FCF Executive Director Christina Spudeas, Richard Slawson

Emcee Jim Sackett, FCF Executive Director Christina Spudeas and Richard Slawson

More than 50 of the area’s prominent business and community leaders, as well as individuals and families concerned about Florida’s foster care youth were in attendance to support the organization and its cause, including recently retired WPTV News Channel 5 Anchor Jim Sackett.

Sackett served as Emcee for the evening’s award ceremony, including a special award he presented to a former foster child, Earle James, who he once profiled in a “Thursday’s Child” segment 10 years ago. Earle overcame a difficult background of abuse and loss to become an advocate for children, speaking at parent and youth workshops. His father, Michael, who adopted Earle after seeing the “Thursday’s Child segment” accepted the “Youth Honoree of the Year” award on Earle’s behalf.