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Archive for the ‘Department of Children & Families (DCF)’ Category

Father Known to DCF Who Abused, Neglected and Starved Toddler to Death Takes Plea, Gets 20-year Sentence

Five months after his wife, Kristen Meyer, was sentenced to 23 years in prison for the death of their infant daughter, Alejandro Aleman pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter of a child and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, as reported by CBS 12.

This issue arises from terrible circumstances that took place in Palm Beach County back in 2016.  Alejandro and his wife had 10 children at the time and kept them all in “deplorable” living conditions.  Investigators discovered a home with mildew, insects, and feces smeared on the walls.  The victim, Tayla, was merely 7 pounds at the time of her death when she was 13 months old.  Tayla was severely malnourished and was infected with E. coli, influenza, and pneumonia at the time of her death.

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Foster Kids Starved, Beaten and Sexually Abused, Reports Show Few Caregivers are Punished

A new USA Today article highlights daunting details regarding the systemic issues in Florida’s child welfare system.  In the last five years, there have been nearly 5,000 calls to the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) abuse hotline from various concerned members of the community.  These calls come from teachers, healthcare professionals, day care workers, neighbors, and more.  The complaints often warn of child abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, abandonment, etc.  The number of foster care complaints filed against foster parents, group homes, and guardians rose by roughly 54% over the past five years.  There is a direct correlation between the surge in referrals and 2014 legislation that made it easier to seize children from their parents to place them in state care.  A consequence of the changes in the law includes having more children in need of foster care with no real place to send them.

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DCF Florida’s Chief Inspector General defends investigation into nonprofit executive pay

Florida private social welfare agencies charged with caring for abused, neglected, and disabled children are under attack after Florida’s Chief Inspector General for the Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF) issued a preliminary report suggesting that their executives were being compensated well above the limits allowed by state law. Many of the executives had salaries well into six figures. There is a concern that federal and state appropriations are padding their executives pockets instead of having the funds reach the children they are supposed to serve.

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After years of ignoring red flags, DCF secretary finally recognizes department’s failures in stopping child sexual abuse

After years of protestation by families, children, and advocacy groups that sexual abuse is rampant in state foster homes, DCF secretary Chad Poppell recognizes DCF’s failure in stopping children placed in state-licensed foster care from being sexually abused.

The Miami Herald recently disclosed that during this past year, ninety-two children in Florida reported being sexually abused by state-licensed foster parents. However, only six allegations of sexual abuse were verified by the state, leaving eighty-six children left alone in the dark, many forced to remain with their alleged abusers.

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Fla Lawmakers Debate Continuing Child Protection System Issues

A recent series of articles in USA Today again indicted Florida’ s failing privatized child protection system, including an interview with Florida child advocate Stacie Schmerling on a horrific case of child sexual abuse in Ocala. Since the release of the articles, Florida lawmakers and child welfare leaders have debated the best route of care for our state’s youth. While it had once been common practice to keep families together, several years ago Florida’s leaders changed its policy resulting in the placement of more children into state care. As a result, an overwhelming number of children entered the system and were, sadly, put in greater danger of abuse, neglect and catastrophic injury when these children were placed with abusive foster parents.

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Tampa Bay Times: Plan to use secure facility for Hillsborough’s problem foster teens is ‘ludicrous,’ sheriff says

A plan to use a secure facility to house Hillsborough’s problem foster teens is being met with opposition from several groups, including the Hillsborough County Sheriff, the Hillsborough County Commission Chairman, and Florida’s Children First. They warn that forcing children into a locked facility will cause them more emotional harm.

According to a recent news report from the Tampa Bay Times, Sheriff Chronister “described the plan, which is backed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, as ‘ludicrous’ and warned Wednesday it would further erode children’s confidence in the grownups entrusted to care for them.”

Read more from the Tampa Bay Times here.

DBR: Legal Aid Groups Bring Class Action Against Florida Agencies Over Medicaid Terminations

Hear from our firm founder Howard Talenfeld in this article from the Daily Business Review regarding a new proposed class action lawsuit in Florida. While Talenfeld is not involved in the class action, he comments on his experience with Florida’s welfare and disability programs.

Click here to read more from the Daily Business Review.

Tampa Bay Times: State agrees to foster care reforms in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, but what about rest of Florida?

It’s a tragedy that abused and neglected foster children like Naika Venant who died by suicide have been bounced from inappropriate placement to inappropriate placement. It is our hope that Secretary Chad Poppell will make these critical changes throughout Florida.

To read more from the Tampa Bay Times, click here.

Howard Talenfeld Quoted in Miami Herald Article on Florida’s Child Protection System

Child advocates in our state continue to warn us about the problems that have resulted from Florida’s failed experiment with privatization in our state’s child protection system. This article from the Miami Herald details those failures, including commentary from children’s rights attorney Howard Talenfeld.

Howard comments: “DCF continues to be plagued by many of the same systemic failures that have bedeviled the agency for generations: low pay and crippling turnover among investigators and caseworkers, a dearth of beds at foster homes, especially for kids with emotional or behavioral illnesses, and chronic physical and sexual abuse at shelters.”

Read the entire story by clicking here

Howard Talenfeld published in South Florida Legal Guide

Read about needed changes to South Florida’s foster care program in the article “South Florida’s Foster Care Program Urgently Needs to Change” by Talenfeld Law Founder Howard Talenfeld in the May 7 issue of the South Florida Legal Guide.

Click here to view the South Florida Legal Guide.

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