What is FCA?

Child Advocacy Blog


Archive for the ‘Legislative & Regulatory Issues’ Category

South Florida Mother Fights for Greyson’s Law After the Tragic and Preventable Murder of Her 4-Year-Old Son

After living a parent’s worst nightmare for six months, Ali Kessler, along with an army of Family Court advocates and local politicians, finally received news that Greyson’s Law was filed in the state of Florida. Kessler has been fighting for legislation that would allow judges to remove a child from a home over concerns that one parent is threatening or abusing the other. Kessler said to MSNBC, “I have to fight for my son who can’t fight for himself.”


Florida Bar President Dori Foster-Morales Appoints Children’s Rights Lawyer Howard Talenfeld Chair of Legal Needs of Children Committee

Howard M. Talenfeld, a respected children’s rights attorney and Business Unit Leader of Justice for Kids, a division of Kelley Kronenberg, has been named Chair of The Florida Bar Legal Needs of Children Committee, as appointed by Bar President Dori Foster-Morales. This is Talenfeld’s second appointment as Committee Chair, having served in the role from 2009-2010.

The Legal Needs of Children Committee was established to find ways to implement the 2002 recommendations of The Florida Bar Commission on the Legal Needs of Children. The committee monitors and has informed the legislative process where the legal needs of children are concerned.


The Florida Legislature Shines a Light to Stem Human Trafficking in Florida

Child advocates across Florida applaud the 2019 Florida Legislature for passing significant legislation that aids in the fight to prevent human trafficking. Sponsored  by Sen. Lauren Book and Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, the law would shine a bright light on the places where these heinous crimes are committed – many of which, sadly, could have been prevented.

This anti-human trafficking bill, HB 851, requires educating the employees of hotels, massage parlors, and adult theaters on how to spot the signs of trafficking and common practices. It calls for those employees who see evidence of these crimes to report suspicious activity to the confidential National Human Trafficking Hotline (888-373-7888).The law also reclassifies strip clubs, that employ underage victims who commonly come from the foster care system and overseas, only to become trapped by trafficking rings, as “adult theaters”.


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.


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

Broward Businesses and Children’s Rights Advocates Push Re-Authorization

The work of the Children’s Services Council of Broward County cannot be overstated. The organization oversees spending of some $60 million annually into county-wide programs that help children in need. Efforts include everything from after-school programs and family counseling to swimming lessons and other important services. According to a Sun-Sentinel article, such programs “help parents work easier, youth become productive and the business climate stronger.” In all about one in four Broward kids benefit.

It’s a role not lost on businesses throughout Broward County. The business community is gathering forces to ensure funding continues. Their efforts will come to a head on Nov. 4, when county voters will decide whether to re-authorize a property tax that funds the council.

Those who back the group are household names. JM Family Enterprises and Castle Group property management support a Yes vote, as does the Broward Workshop of county CEOs.

Such “front-end” services can help avoid foster care and juvenile detention for the county’s most vulnerable youth, said Howard Talenfeld, a leading children’s rights attorney and founding president of Florida’s Children First. The organization is the state’s premier children’s advocacy group. The result: families remain unified, kids stay in school, summer jobs are more common, and Broward’s children get the counseling they need, he said.

Vote Yes for re-authorization of the Children’s Services Council on Nov. 4. Success will prove beneficial to more than just the county’s businesses. Citizens throughout Broward will realize the positive results.

Hard Work Pays for Premier Florida Foster Child Advocacy Group

From Tallahassee to Main Street, Florida’s Children First enjoyed remarkable success over the past year in its mission to help the state’s vulnerable, abused and at-risk children. The organization and its supporters helped usher in several new laws and public interest efforts that together make life safer for Florida’s foster children and others. 

Among the initiatives, two bills the organization and its backers had proposed were made into law. They included the Counsel for Dependent Children with Special Needs (HB 561), which will help ensure legal counsel is provided to special-needs children in the state dependency system. The other was Juvenile Sentencing Reform (HB 7035), in which FCF served as part of a vital coalition of backers who helped advocate for the measure.

FCF also helped to get key language incorporated into important laws that were enacted this session. The language and bills included creation of a Website to Report Child Deaths or Neglect (SB 1666); Child-on-Child Sexual Assault (SB 1666); Services & Provision Tracking (SB 1666); and Accountability on Delivery of Services Through Community Alliance Boards (SB 1666).


Florida Department of Children and Families Adds New Data to Child Deaths Site

Florida child abuse attorneys and advocates are watching a move to boost transparency around the deaths of children known to the Florida Department of Children and Families to be at risk of harm. The agency has added to a new website five years of data regarding child abuse deaths.

The pubic site, which was mandated by the Florida Legislature in the wake of the deaths of almost 500 children over the past several years, is being updated each week. It includes new data on the fatalities children stemming from neglect, abuse or other harm.


New Law a Start, Now Florida Legislature, Agencies, Advocates Must Monitor Children’s Safety

With regard to The Herald’s series, Innocents Lost, about the 477 children who died while known by the Department of Children and Families to potentially be at risk, the cases all involved DCF’s knowledge from prior investigations of multiple red flags for children who would be at significant risk of future serious harm or death if left with their families.

In no system should children die at the expense of keeping families together, and this is where the Florida Legislature new enactment SB 1666 placed child safety as paramount. However, this law does not change federal mandate under the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 for states to use reasonable efforts to preserve families where it can, without jeopardizing the lives of children.


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.

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.

Children’s Services Council – A Critical Safety Net for Our Kids

How much is it worth to help and protect at-risk children? How important is it to ensure our kids have services essential to their health, education and well being? Broward voters will be asked those questions in November – with implications felt for years to come.

A referendum will ask county residents whether to reaffirm the Children’s Services Council of Broward County. The organization provides early learning and reading programs, after school programs, developmental health, preventive and other children’s support services. It keeps families together and their children out of foster care, delinquency programs and prison. The Council is funded by an annual homeowner tax assessment.

How much does this cost? By one calculation, it’s about $60 for a $125,000 home in Broward County, or about $60 million countywide, spent by various organizations dedicated to protecting our kids.