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Welcome to Florida Child Advocate

September 27th, 2018   No Comments   Abuse, Adoption, Advocacy

(Scroll Beyond This Introduction to Read the Latest Blog Post)

Thousands of foster children, former foster children, developmentally disabled and medically needy children are part of the Florida child care system. If you’re currently or formerly a child in – or an advocate for or parent of a child in the foster care system, Florida Child Advocate is here to help.

Every year, thousands of foster children, medically needy children, or those physically abused, sexually abused, the victims of personal injury,  legal damages, and pain and suffering are left to seek solutions on their own. No child should go through this on his or her own. And for the almost 500 who have died while under state watch, they deserved better.

This site was created by the law firm of Talenfeld Law, which was founded by nationally known Florida child advocate Howard Talenfeld, the preeminent children’s rights attorneys focusing exclusively on protecting the rights of physically and sexually abused children, developmentally disabled children and other at-risk children. Florida Child Advocate is dedicated to protecting children and addressing key issues facing those with foster care, physical abuse, child sexual abuse, social services, dependency, disability or personal injury and damages claims or lawsuits against the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), lead agencies, community based care providers, and other child welfare providers.

We believe that children belong with their own families. However, we also believe that when protective investigations by the Florida DCF and its agencies reveal that children are at high risk of neglect, child sex abuse or physical abuse by their parents, they must be placed with suitable relatives when they are available, and if not, some children must be placed in foster care. Critically, if children are going to be taken into foster care, they should be protected by the Florida Department of Children & Families and their community partners from the risk of physical and sexual abuse and returned home or placed in loving and nurturing adoptive families as quickly as possible. Topics also include the rights of foster Children to be safe from harm in care, their right to medical, psychological care, and disability benefits, their educational rights, and their rights on the road to independence.

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Governor Scott Signs $5 Million Claims Bill for Child Sexually Abused by Foster Boy Living in the Home

On Friday, March 23, Governor Rick Scott signed CS/HB 6509, a claims bill that directs the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) to pay more than $5 million awarded by a Florida jury to C.M.H., a victim of sexual abuse by a child in foster care. This marks the largest known recovery in Florida for one child who was emotionally and sexually abused against a governmental defendant, DCF. Children’s rights attorney and Talenfeld Law Founder Howard Talenfeld served as co-counsel for C.M.H.

The bill is the result of a verdict and judgment against DCF on behalf of C.M.H., who was sexually assaulted at age nine by an 11-year-old foster child (“J.W.”) that DCF had placed at the home without a safety plan.

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Florida Legislature Approves Claims Bill for Child Sexually Abused by Foster Boy Living in the Home

March 15th, 2018   Comments Off on Florida Legislature Approves Claims Bill for Child Sexually Abused by Foster Boy Living in the Home   Abuse, Court Cases, Department of Children & Families (DCF)

On Thursday, March 8, the Florida Legislature approved a Claims Bill regarding a West Palm Beach jury verdict, which would provide $5 million to a victim of sexual abuse. The bill is the result of a verdict against the Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF) on behalf of a young man (“C.M.H.”) who was sexually assaulted at age nine by an 11-year-old foster child (“J.W.”) that DCF had placed at the home. Children’s rights attorney Howard Talenfeld represented C.M.H.

Read the entire story from the Palm Beach Post by clicking here

 

Anti-Human Trafficking Bills Deserve to be Heard

The Legislature has only a few days to pass Anti-Human Trafficking Bills SB 1044 and HB 167 which would hold hotels and motels responsible if they turn a blind eye to traffickers.

Ask for a full vote on the House & Senate floors this session and protect Floridians from suffering like Lynn did! As to SB 1044, contact: President Joe Negron at negron.joe@flsenate.gov (850 487-5025);Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto benacquistolizbeth@flsenate.gov (850 487-5027); and as to (HB 167) contact Speaker Richard Corcoran richard.corcoran@myfloridahouse.gov, (850 717-5000) and Rep. Jose Oliva jose.oliva@myfloridahouse.gov (850 717-5110).

Please share my story and urge the Florida Legislature to pass SB 1044 and HB 167 to hold hotels and motels responsible for turning a blind eye to human trafficking #Lynnsstory #HumanTrafficking #Survivor

Posted by Lynn Doe on Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Foster Child Deaths Again Highlight Failed Privatized Welfare System

A letter to the editor from preeminent foster child rights attorney Howard Talenfeld was published in the Miami Herald and the Naples Daily News this week regarding the tragic deaths of teens like Giulianna Ramos Bermudez, Lauryn Martin-Everett and Naika Venant.

Their suicides prove again that privatization of the child welfare system has done little to improve the welfare of Florida’s children.

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Child Rights Attorney: South Florida Children Sexually, Emotionally Abused by Human Trafficking

April 15th, 2017   No Comments   Abuse

Many think of “child abuse” as a physical act of abuse being committed upon kids who are emotionally, physically, or sexually harmed by others. The harm they face, whether as young children or teenagers in households with their families, living in the system, or enduring life on the streets, often is beyond the view of daily life.

Yet, there’s another peril infecting society that recently was raised by child advocates; Human trafficking. This form of abuse knows no bounds. If affects children – and adults – of almost all ages and socio-economic backgrounds everywhere in the world. It can start with an adult befriending an unwitting but vulnerable child and steering them toward a life of sexual slavery.

While government organizations and private groups work to help prevent at-risk kids from falling into the trap of human trafficking, it’s up to society to do more.

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Foster Child Suicide Shows Florida’s Failed Child Welfare Privatization Experiment

When the Florida Department of Children and Families responded to a records request by the media regarding the suicide of Lauryn Martin-Everett with the line, “We remain deeply saddened by the tragic loss of this child,” some could argue the admission itself was a reflection of the state’s failed experiment with privatization and outsourcing of child welfare services.

The 16-year-old girl was a ward of the state; her parents knew little about her care or what led to her death by hanging. Though she spent eight years in “the system,” a DCF “child fatality summary” was less than three pages long.

Whether Gabriel Myers;  Naika Venant, the 14-year-old who hanged herself in a Miami Gardens foster home little over a month later, or Lauryn, we’ve learned that privatization of the child welfare system has done little to improve the welfare of the state’s children.

Again, child abuse attorneys and others who fight for the rights of abused, neglected, sexually abused, or those minors otherwise harmed or the victims of wrongful death while in the Florida child welfare system are left to wonder: When will the final stories of these children’s sad lives amount to a three-page summary? And when will the lessons be learned?

Attorney: Girl Who Streamed Suicide on Facebook Live Was Failed by System

When a 14-year-old girl used Facebook Live to live-stream her suicide, the world came to discover the help she desperately needed and never received from Florida’s social services agencies, notes her attorney. Her destructive behavior and long stint in foster care should have been sufficient warning. But as with other cases, warning flags were missed, overlooked, or ignored.

Foster care had been part of Nakia Venant’s life since 2009 – 10 different foster homes and child shelters, even hotels and a child welfare office, since last April alone. Excessive corporal punishment initiated some of the outbursts; alleged sexual abuse by another child while in state care exacerbated her situation. Then, she committed suicide while streaming live on social media, notes Howard Talenfeld, the child welfare attorney representing Venant’s mother, in an article in the Miami Herald

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Child Abuse Attorney: Girl’s Suicide an Example of Failed Child Welfare Privatization

Florida child advocates and attorneys who represent children raped and abused in the child welfare system are struggling to comprehend how and why a 14-year-old girl, who reportedly had been sexually abused while in state care, hanged herself while streaming the event on Facebook Live this week. “I have to bury my baby,” her mother, Gina Alexis, said through sobs.

Screenshot 2017-01-26 at 9.22.56 AMIt’s another example of how Florida’s experiment with privatization of its child welfare system is a failure, said Howard Talenfeld and Stacie Schmerling. The Fort Lauderdale attorneys are representing Alexis, mother of Naika Venant.

During a press conference at their law office, Ms. Alexis cried, “I trusted Florida foster care. Instead she kills herself on Facebook.”

Some blame social media. Talenfeld told those seeking answers to look elsewhere. “We first need to look more than anywhere else at what is going on in our backyards in Florida,” Talenfeld told the media gathered in his Fort Lauderdale law office. “Facebook is a method of communication, a method where the message was sent, but the reality is Facebook didn’t rape her. Facebook didn’t fail to provide her services. Facebook didn’t take her into care promising her a better life.”

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Children’s Rights Attorney Barri A. Reisch Joins Fort Lauderdale-based Talenfeld Law

December 14th, 2016   No Comments   Abuse, Advocacy

Barri A. Reisch, Esq., has joined Talenfeld Law, the Fort Lauderdale-based law firm that is Florida’s only firm dedicated exclusively to protecting abused, disabled and injured children. Reisch joins the firm as an associate and will focus her practice on foster care and disabled persons damages, civil rights, personal injury, and child welfare litigation.

“Barri’s commitment to child advocacy makes her the perfect fit for our firm,” said Howard Talenfeld, firm managing partner.

barri-r-bioWhile studying at Emory University School of Law, Reisch was a part-time legal intern for the Barton Child Law and Policy Center’s Appeal for Youth Clinic. In this role, she provided post-conviction relief for former foster children as well as representation for foster children in administrative disciplinary hearings before several Georgia County School Boards. Additionally, she served as a clerk for Judge Clarence F. Seeliger in the DeKalb County Superior Court of Georgia.

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Young Man Dies at Broward Youth Treatment Center

October 14th, 2016   No Comments   Abuse, Advocacy

Child advocates and attorneys who fight to protect from abuse teens and youths in the Florida juvenile justice system are watching closely the case of a teen who died at a drug treatment center in Pembroke Pines. The youth’s case also has raised the interest of police and state juvenile justice administrators.

The 17-year-old boy was housed at the center for delinquent youths, having been ordered there by the courts. The private “Broward Youth Treatment Center” is contracted by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.

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Soccer Coach’s Arrest for Alleged Teen Sex Abuse Reveals Need for Vigilance

August 31st, 2016   No Comments   Abuse, Advocacy

When a Plantation soccer coach was arrested this month on multiple charges of sexual battery on a minor, the case revealed again how parents must be alert to the sexual abuse even “trusted” adults can perpetrate on young victims.

The victim was in her teens when the alleged sex occurred several times between 2003 and 2007. The accused abuser, Juan W. Ramos, 43, has been over the past decade a school employee and soccer coach at American Heritage and other schools.

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