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Archive for the ‘Foster Care’ Category

Orlando Sentinel: ‘Baby steps’ made to protect kids 20 years after Kayla McKean, 6, was murdered by father

November 27th, 2018   No Comments   Abuse, Foster Care, Privatization

Talenfeld Law Founder Howard Talenfeld shares insights on the deficiencies in our state’s foster care program in this article from the Orlando Sentinel, “‘Baby steps’ made to protect kids 20 years after Kayla McKean, 6, was murdered by father.”

According to Talenfeld, privatization of child-welfare services has resulted in more state dollars going toward administrative costs and less money is reaching the ground per capita per kid.

Read the entire story by clicking 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.

Opinion Piece: In Florida and Nationally, Privatized Foster Care is a Failed Experiment

October 17th, 2017   No Comments   Foster Care, Privatization

The following is an opinion piece from Howard Talenfeld, President of Florida’s Children First and the founder of Talenfeld Law.

When Senators Orrin Hatch and Ron Wyden, the Chairman and Ranking Member respectively of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, released findings from a two-year investigation into foster care privatization, it did more than reveal “abuse, neglect and system failures at every level.”

It confirmed what Floridians have known for years, though Florida did not respond to senators’ request for information. As implemented in Florida in many jurisdictions around the country, privatized foster care is an experiment that has failed.

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Florida’s Children First Honors Miami-Dade State Attorney, Senator and Public Defender’s Office at its Miami Awards Reception

Florida’s Children First (FCF), the statewide advocacy organization focused on protecting the legal rights of at-risk and foster care children, had a very successful Miami-Dade awards reception last week.

Dozens of community and business leaders, and all other persons concerned about the future of Florida’s abused, abandoned and neglected children, were there to honor the 2016 award recipients. This year’s Champion for Children award went to Sen. Anitere Flores, who has been an active advocate since her teen years and has been in public service since 2004. Receiving Child Advocate of the Year Awards were Katherine Fernandez Rundle of the State Attorney’s Office and Carlos J. Martinez of the Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s Office. Additionally, Edward Cody was honored as the 2016 Youth Advocate of the Year for Miami.

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Foster Care Documentary Shows the Need for Reform of Florida’s Privatized Child Welfare System

April 15th, 2016   No Comments   Abuse, Foster Care

Florida’s privatized system of foster care is still failing our children.  This documentary, which aired at the Palm Beach film festival, tells the story of many children who have fallen through the cracks of Florida’s experiment and who have been physically, sexually and emotionally abused in the system that was supposed to protect them. It begins the discussion as to what we must do next to protect our state’s children.

 

Foster Shock Documentary Trailer from Brian Bayerl on Vimeo.

Talenfeld Law Expands to Central Florida; Attorney Lisa M. Elliott to Head Children’s Rights Office in Daytona Beach

Talenfeld Law, Florida’s only law firm dedicated exclusively to protecting abused, disabled and injured children, has opened an office in Daytona Beach. Attorney Lisa M. Elliott will lead the office, and becomes the firm’s fifth lawyer. Ms. Elliott will now devote her practice to protecting these very special children throughout Central and Northern Florida.

Talenfeld - Lisa Elliott“We are thrilled that Lisa has joined our firm and will allow us to handle more cases and better serve children throughout Florida,” said Howard Talenfeld, the firm’s managing partner. “Lisa’s skills, reputation and advocacy for vulnerable children and her connection to Central Florida’s communities make her an invaluable addition to our firm.”

Mr. Talenfeld first met Ms. Elliott while working together with her on civil rights and damages cases with the late Gainesville lawyer and well-known child advocate Gloria Fletcher. While at her prominent Gainesville law firm, Ms. Elliott represented children who had been injured or abused in the Florida child welfare system, and advocated for clients in personal injury claims and other civil matters. She opened her own practice in 2015.

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Florida Advocates’ Successful Push for Florida Foster Kids Gets Tuition Exemptions for College, Graduate Education

When a former foster child from Sarasota was accepted to Florida International University Law School, he wondered how he’d pay for it. After all, foster families often don’t have the money for such expenses. While state law granted tuition exemptions for foster kids seeking undergraduate and graduate educations, the State University System of Florida Board of Governors (BOG) refused to require state schools to grant exemptions.

That’s changing. After four years of work by Florida Youth Shine, Florida’s Children First, and other advocacy groups, committed lawmakers, and pro bono legal counsel that brought an administrative challenge, the BOG has directed state universities to grant exemptions to accepted students from foster care. A full repeal of the rule is said to be under consideration.

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Fort Lauderdale Event to Celebrate Florida’s Foster Children and Advocates

This Thursday, dedicated South Florida child advocates who fight to protect the state’s most vulnerable foster children and at-risk kids will gather for the Broward Child Advocacy Awards & Reception supporting Florida’s Children First, the state’s leading child advocacy organization.

The event will be held at The Riverside Hotel (620 East Las Olas Blvd. Fort Lauderdale, 33301) on Thursday, February 25 from 5:30pm- 7:30pm.

Register here. Sponsorships are still available.

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Florida Youth Shine Reaches 10 Year Milestone

Florida’s Children First (FCF) proudly celebrates 10 years of Florida Youth SHINE Advocacy! After FCF was established in 2002, Florida Youth SHINE was formed so that foster children could tell their stories and advocate for legislative change.

For the past ten years Florida Youth SHINE, a statewide organization now consisting of more than 200 former and current foster children, has been advocating around the state and in the Florida Legislature, for positive change to the system of care by using their experience and stories. In 2005, Florida’s Children First, a statewide group of child advocates (www.floridaschildrenfirst.org)  created Florida Youth SHINE because it believed that the youth are the experts and when making decisions about youth and it is critical to have a youth voice at the table. Florida Youth SHINE empowers their members to identify and share the issues they experienced and work for solutions through advocacy. One of the ways they do this is by educating others about the issues and improvements that need to be made.

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As ‘Crisis’ Looms, We Praise Florida Foster Families in Protecting At-Risk Kids’ Needs

The Florida foster child care system can be a challenging place for foster kids – and foster families. Much as the state encourages families to volunteer to provide stable, if temporary, homes to these at-risk children, foster parents find a blend of reward and difficulty in their tasks.

It’s an unenviable situation across the board. A newspaper investigation found that 477 kids who were known to be at risk by the Florida Department of Children and Families were not removed from their homes. Instead, the agency has supported a policy of “family preservation,” believing that a safe natural family home is the best place for at risk kids.

We agree. But for those kids who are truly in harm’s way, removal – at least temporarily – often is the answer.

In the wake of the investigation, experts believe more kids will be removed from their biological families. If that’s the case, adults and families must be encouraged to become foster providers to nurture at-risk children as attempts are made to help biological parents create safe and nurturing homes for their children.

Read this Florida Weekly story on the successes and trials of foster families. You’ll discover who they are, why they care for at-risk children, how they’re treated – and mistreated – by the system, and why many have fostered dozens of children and even helped some biological parents become better parents to their children.

We applaud their efforts.

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.

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