What is FCA?

Child Advocacy Blog


Archive for May, 2014

Critical Florida Children’s Advocacy Bill Awaits Governor Scott Signature

For as long as any Florida child advocate or children’s rights attorney can recall, Florida case law has said children have no constitutional right to an attorney in dependency court. That has meant kids’ futures would be decided with no attorney advocating for their needs, lives or futures.

In what some believe is a watershed moment for at-risk and vulnerable children statewide, the Florida Legislature this year passed House Bill 561. The measure requires the appointment of and payment for an attorney ad litem for Florida’s at-risk children facing court or dependency court proceedings. Read a Daily Business Review article.

Written in part by Howard Talenfeld, a leading Florida child advocacy attorney and shareholder with Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky, Abate and Webb, P.A., the measure awaits the signature of Gov. Rick Scott. With widespread, bipartisan support – and the backing of advocates statewide – it is hoped this measure will be signed and children will received the professional advocacy they so desperately need.

New Child Death ‘Czar’ Named to Florida Department of Children and Families

Following through on his promise to address hundreds of the death of hundreds of children under the watch of the Florida Department of Children and Families, new DCF Interim Secretary Mike Carroll named the agency’s first statewide fatality prevention specialist. Lisa Rivera, a 17-year veteran with the agency who started as a child abuse investigator, is now the the agency’s top child death administrator.

The news comes in Carroll’s second week on the job – and amid calls for changes to how the agency addresses and tracks at-risk children. Read the entire story in Florida’s Children First, the state’s premier child advocacy organization.

Florida Child Advocates Help Legislature Pass Historic Law for At-Risk Kids

Florida’s Children First with the assistance of many child advocates was able to help pass historic legislation that created sweeping changes in children’s rights issues, including the right for disabled children to have an attorney in their dependency cases. Read a recap of the legislation here.

Florida LegislatureThanks to Carol Marbin Miller with the Miami Herald for shining the light on such tragedies like the death of Tamiya Audain, the 12-year-old autistic girl whose mom died and agencies never got her Medicaid Waiver benefits or found a safe home for her to live in.

Thanks to Senator Bill Galvano (Bradenton), Representative Erik Fresen (Miami), and Senator Rob Bradley (Orange Park), Department of Children and Families Secretary Esther Jacobo, Florida Bar President Eugene Pettis and Statewide Guardian Ad Litem Director Alan Abramowitz for making this legislation a top priority.

Florida Legislature Passes Historic Law to Provide Attorneys for Dependent Children with Special Needs; Vital Measure Wins Bipartisan Support, Heads to Gov. Scott for Signing

With bipartisan support spearheaded by Senator Bill Galvano (Bradenton) and Representative Erik Fresen (Miami), the Florida Legislature today passed a measure that will provide attorneys to protect dependent children with special needs who are in the legal custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). The companion House and Senate bills (SB 972 and HB 561) would fund attorneys to represent these at-risk children, many of whom linger in foster care longer than their peers, often for an average of up to five years. The budget up for approval amounts to $4.5 million.

FCA Attorney Press Conference“Since 2002, The Florida Bar Commission On The Legal Needs of Children recognized the critical necessity to appoint attorneys for vulnerable, abused and neglected children in the custody of the state,” said Howard Talenfeld, President of Florida’s Children First, the statewide organization that has fought for this legislation since the report was issued.

Recently, the Miami Herald conducted a special investigation regarding 477 children in Florida who have died from abuse and neglect, including many children with special needs. One such child, Tamiya Audain, a 12-year-old Broward girl who had autism and a rare medical disease, starved to death in September 2013 as a result of neglect in the home of a relative with whom she was placed after her mother died.