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Archive for March, 2014

Tampa Bay Times Letter: Legislature, DCF Must Act on Behalf of At-Risk Kids

For foster child advocates and the attorneys who strive to protect at-risk children from assault, physical abuse, sexual abuse and other personal injury, the word is getting around: The Legislature must act to protect these children. It also must compel the Florida Department of Children and Families to do more to meet its mandate to see that kids under its watch are, in fact, protected.

In that regard, the Legislature has led the charge for change. DCF Interim Secretary Esther Jacobo has welcomed more collaboration to protect children. And the news media, which released an investigative report on the deaths of 477 children under DCF watch, has been working in the public interest in covering this closely.

The Tampa Bay Times this week published a letter to the editor on the issue. Written by child advocate and foster care abuse attorney Howard Talenfeld, the letter applauded the Legislature’s actions, while calling for closer oversight of DCF. Read the entire letter here.

The more that Floridians know about these issues, the safer our children will be.

Foster Child Attorney: Proposed Law to Provide Attorneys for Children with Disabilities Passes Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee

By a unanimous vote, SB 972, sponsored by Senator Bill Galvano (Bradenton), was approved by Florida’s Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee today with overwhelming support. The bipartisan, bicameral initiative would provide attorneys to children with disabilities in foster care, many of whom linger in foster care longer than their peers, for an average of up to five years, and sometimes longer. Representative Erik Fresen (Miami) is the sponsor of the House companion bill HB 561, which also passed unanimously during its first committee meeting.

“We are grateful to the hundreds of volunteers across the state who give their time to help our children through programs like GAL and other local legal aides, but we have a moral obligation to make sure all of our medically fragile children and their families get the care they need,” said Sen. Galvano.

Under SB 972, the attorney would provide necessary legal representation in administrative and court hearings to help children obtain the services and support they need to be safe and well and to find permanent families. Recognizing the need for skilled representation, these lawyers would represent disabled children in applications for benefits and denial of benefits from the state and federal agencies, such as the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Agency for Health Care Administration or the Social Security Administration.


Florida Child Advocate: State, Department of Children and Families Must Protect Kids From Future Abuse

March 18th, 2014   No Comments   Uncategorized

In this letter to the Miami Herald, child advocate and foster child abuse attorney Howard Talenfeld applauds the Florida Legislature for tackling the issue of children harmed or killed while under the watch of the Florida Department of Children and Families – and he identifies key areas of additional change.

Read the letter below or on the Miami Herald website here.

The Miami Herald’s March 16 investigative report, Innocents lost, which examines the deaths of 477 children who were known to be at risk by the Department of Children & Families, shockingly revealed the abysmal failure of DCF and its community partners to protect these children.

As DCF reduced the number of children in its dangerous, burgeoning out-of-home care system from 50,000 in 2002 to 16,000, it failed, along with its private partners, to take action to protect the children that investigators determined were in harm’s way.


Florida Child Abuse Attorney: Legislature Must Change DCF After Children Die Under Agency Watch

The Florida Department of Children and Families is facing renewed scrutiny in the media and the Florida Legislature after an investigation by the Miami Herald revealed the deaths of 475 children known by the agency to be at risk of child abuse, neglect or grievous harm. Child advocate and child abuse attorney Howard Talenfeld, also president of Florida Children First, says the problem is existing Florida requires cases be closed within two months – regardless of the investigators’ findings.

The law must change.

“The problem is, we have a state statute that says after 60 days the investigation is closed and so the investigations are closed and there is no follow up in many cases with respect to services the family and a child needs to protect the child,” Talenfeld told NBC Miami.


Child Abuse Attorney, Florida Senate Committee Address Issue of Children’s Deaths in ‘Porous’ Welfare System

Leading Florida child advocate and children’s rights attorney Howard Talenfeld addressed the Florida Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee this week, as they sought to stem a year’s worth of damning news of dozens of children who died from abuse and neglect while under the watch of the Florida Department of Children and Families and its various community based care providers and private contractors.

HT at Senate HearingLater, the Florida Senate committee passed several proposals advocates and leaders hope will improve the quality and quantity of regulation over the state’s child welfare system. The goal, in part, is to improve what Senate President Don Gaetz called “a porous system,” according to the Miami Herald.

Addressing the wide-ranging areas in need of correction, Talenfeld spoke of the need to directs DCF to keep siblings together when placed into foster case, as well as tackling child-on-child sexual abuse, expanding child safety plans and extending 60-day case reviews.

“After 60 days, it’s over,” Talenfeld said. “There’s no one watching the children. There’s no one watching the family and someone is waiting for the next shoe to fall.”

Read the Miami Herald coverage here.

Broward Child Advocacy Awards & Reception a Huge Success

March 4th, 2014   No Comments   Advocacy, News & Events

Florida’s Children First, the state’s premier child advocacy organization, held its 2014 Broward Child Advocacy Awards & Reception in February at the 110 Tower in Fort Lauderdale. It was a phenomenal success. We thank everyone who participated for making this year such a terrific effort. We have over 120 people registered for the training and had nearly 300 guests at the reception. The food was fantastic, thanks to Temptations Catering.

FCF 2014 ImageThe event honored The Children’s Services Council of Broward County.

Honorees, whose stories were truly motivational, include David Di Pietro, Aaron Dames, Taevon Pierre Harvin,  Isabella & Gabriella Glazer – Forever Family Bella’s Group.


Maria Abate, Anne V. Alper, David Bazerman, Bill Beck, Skip Campbell, Michael S. Carris, Mike Colodny, Alfreda Coward, Jesse Diner, Joel S. Fass, Dr. Ira Glazer, Marietta Glazer, Evan Goldman, Hon. Susan K. Goldstein, Charles Grimsley, Walter Honaman, , Fred Karlinsky, Belinda Keiser, Kristi Krueger, Melissa Lader Barnhart, Alan Levine, Dr. Fred Lippman. Denise Manning, Todd McPharlin, Robin Moselle, Cindy Niad Hannah, Angelica Palank, Gerald Reiss, Hon. Nan Rich, Hon. Jeremy Ring, Stacie J. Schmerling, Howard Talenfeld, Julie Talenfeld, Todd Templin, Gia Tutalo-Mote, Cindy S. Vova, Aleida Waldman and Jeffery Wank.