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Archive for January, 2015

Advocacy Group Names Child Abuse Attorney, Foster Child Lawyer Howard Talenfeld Named ‘Champion for Children’

January 28th, 2015   No Comments   Abuse, Advocacy, News & Events

Pioneering children’s rights attorney and child physical abuse and sexual abuse lawyer Howard Talenfeld was profiled recently for his being named a Champion for Children by Florida’s Children First, the state’s premier children’s advocacy organization.

Talenfeld was lauded for his career spent protecting for the rights of children abused, injured and harmed, whether in the child protective system or under the services of community based care organizations charged with protecting the state’s most vulnerable youth. Read the article here on Page 18.

Talenfeld and his team at Talenfeld Law / Justice For Kids have worked tirelessly to fight for the rights of these children, both in the courtroom and in the halls of the Florida Legislature.


Child Advocates: Join Florida’s Children First for Broward Awards

January 15th, 2015   No Comments   Advocacy, News & Events

Fort Lauderdale, Broward County and Miami attorneys, foster abuse lawyers, child care guardians and those who advocate for Florida’s each abused, neglected and injured child are invited to attend the 2015 Broward Child Advocacy Awards & Reception. The annual event from Florida’s Children First, brings together people who care about children’s rights.

Registration has opened for the Broward Child Advocacy Awards & Reception.This year, the event will honor distinguished child advocates in the area and raise awareness for key child protection issues.

The event will be held on Thursday February 26, 2015, from 5:30pm to 7:30pm at a NEW LOCATION: The Riverside Hotel (620 East Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale 33301).

Click Here to Register.

Click Here to download the event Flyer.


Florida Child Advocates Debate Foster Homes vs. Group Homes for At-Risk Kids

January 13th, 2015   No Comments   Uncategorized

When the Florida Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability released a study in December on the price and value of placing the state’s at-risk, abused and troubled children in group homes versus foster homes, the findings were not surprising to some who fight to protect the rights and safety of at-risk youths.

The study found that group homes are more expensive than foster homes, yet only one in 10 kids removed from their families are placed with suitable foster situations, like with relatives, friends or foster homes.

Group homes can provide higher levels of professional attention, especially for the most troubled kids. Not all kids – or all kids’ needs – are the same.

The key is to find the balance and serve kids’ particular needs, as well as those of the foster parents who often struggle to provide a suitable, loving home, noted Christina Spudeas, executive director of Florida’s Children First. The organization is the state’s premier child advocacy group. Some kids are tough to place, even with caring foster parents willing to take on the task.


Man Faces Death Penalty, Florida DCF Revises Rules, in Death of Phoebe Jonchuck

January 13th, 2015   No Comments   Abuse, Court Cases

Phoebe JonchuckChild advocates and children’s rights attorneys who fight to prevent child abuse and death of Florida’s at-risk children are concerned about the evolving case of Phoebe Jonchuck. During a court hearing, her father, Jon Jonchuck, had hoped his case would be “in God’s hands” but a court-appointed attorney now will help in the defense of the Florida man accused of throwing his 5-year-old daughter off a bridge to her death this month. If convicted, Jonchuck faces the death penalty.

Yet, even as the court case begins, the Florida Department of Children and Families has made several policy changes intended to change how state child welfare investigators respond to warnings of possible or impending child abuse or child neglect. The agency may also be called to answer how much it knew her to be at risk of harm, given it had previous interactions with the family.

Jonchuck reportedly had spoken to his attorney last week in advance of little Phoebe’s death. The attorney reportedly then called authorities to warn about the man’s strange behavior. When Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at his home, Jonchuck and Phoebe were acting normally, according to news reports.

Yet while all appeared normal, this wasn’t the first time DCF had visited Phoebe or the family, according to a release from the department.


Death of Child After Warning to Abuse Hotline Spurs Changes to State Response

January 10th, 2015   No Comments   Abuse, News & Events

To those who advocate for greater protections for any child suffering physical abuse or threatened with harm, the episode this week when a young girl was thrown to her death off a Tampa Bay bridge raises questions and concerns. In the aftermath of the death of 5-year-old Phoebe Jonchuck, reportedly at the hands of her father, John Jonchuck, the Florida Department of Children and Families has reviewed and will change the criteria for how its child abuse hotline responds to calls and warnings of potentially abusive situations.

Police say Phoebe was thrown by her father off a bridge near Tampa Bay’s Sunshine Skyway after a call was received to the hotline earlier in the day. The caller, authorities said, “regarding the mental health of Phoebe’s father.” In the 2:45pm call, the caller, reportedly Jonchuck’s attorney, warned that John Jonchuck was “depressed and delusional.”

The call came after Jonchuck reportedly referred to his attorney as “God” and asked the woman to translate a Bible. The attorney’s calls to police and the state child abuse hotline led authorities to visit and interview Jonchuck. With Phoebe smiling and at his side, all appeared normal.


Florida’s Child Advocates Laud Judge’s Ruling on Medical Costs for At-Risk Kids

January 2nd, 2015   No Comments   Advocacy, Commentary, Court Cases

In an important win for Florida’s most vulnerable children – and the doctors and advocates who serve them, a U.S. federal judge this week ruled that the state’s healthcare system for those children violates various federal laws. The move follows a decade-long battle by pediatricians who care for those kids, but have done so at fees sufficient to ensure adequate care.

In his ruling, US Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan pediatricians and various specialists were subject to a Medicaid budget set by the state at an artificially low level. As a result, many of those doctors elected not to participate in the insurance program that serves the needy. Kids were receiving sub-par medical and dental care, or none at all, especially when families were forced to drive long distances to find doctors still participating in the state program.

“This is a great day for the children in this state,” Dr. Louis B. St. Petery, a Tallahassee pediatrician and executive vice president of the Florida Pediatric Society, told the Miami Herald. Dr. Petery helped spearhead the suit.