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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.


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.


Children’s Rights Lawyer / Veteran Child Welfare Worker Stacie J. Schmerling Named Partner at Talenfeld Law, Nation’s Leading Children’s Rights Law Firm

December 15th, 2014   No Comments   News & Events

STACIEStacie J. Schmerling, a children’s rights lawyer and former veteran child welfare investigator and case worker, has been named partner with Talenfeld Law, Florida’s only law firm dedicated exclusively to protecting abused, disabled and injured kids.

Stacie has worked with preeminent children’s rights lawyer Howard Talenfeld for six years and has been involved in many significant, multimillion dollar cases in the area of civil rights and child welfare.

“Stacie has earned her permanent place as an invaluable member of our team and a staunch partner in our mission to fight for the rights of society’s most vulnerable citizens,” Howard said. “During our time together, we’ve helped deliver life-saving results for children whose abuse and harm have been heart-wrenching and have required the skill of a dedicated and impassioned professional.”

As a partner in Talenfeld Law, Stacie will work to protect the rights of children, the developmentally disabled and others injured in the care of Florida agencies and contracted care providers.


Florida’s Children First to Host Annual Palm Beach Fundraiser and Awards Oct. 29 Honoring Child Advocates of the Year

October 17th, 2014   No Comments   Advocacy, News & Events

Florida’s Children First (FCF) will recognize Palm Beach County individuals for their tireless efforts to advocate for the state’s most vulnerable citizens at its annual Palm Beach Reception on Oct. 29 at the National Croquet Center Point Club in West Palm Beach. FCF is a statewide, nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting foster children and other at-risk youth. The event begins at 5:30 p.m.

Dozens of Palm Beach County’s prominent business and community leaders, as well as people concerned about the future of Florida’s children, especially abused, abandoned and neglected children and youth, will be in attendance.

This year, the Honorable Ronald V. Alvarez, recently retired Juvenile Court Judge for the 15th Judicial Circuit and his wife Mrs. Elaine Webb Alvarez will be honored as Child Advocates of the year. Judge Alvarez has long championed the children that come before him in both delinquency and dependency. He also served on virtually every committee to improve the justice and services provided for children.  As an example, he was a member of Unmet Legal Needs of Children Committee, the recommendations of which have finally led to increasing the access of certain categories of foster children to their own lawyers (FCF’s Counsel for Kids Bill).


Noted Children’s Advocate Attorney Howard Talenfeld Starts New Firm Representing At-Risk, Foster Kids

Howard Talenfeld, one of the nation’s preeminent children’s rights attorneys, has launched Talenfeld Law. The law firm will be the first in Florida to focus exclusively on protecting the rights of physically and sexually abused, medically fragile, foster and other at-risk children.

Talenfeld is known throughout the legal community and national media as having established the nation’s premier children’s rights practice. His work on behalf of at-risk individuals has earned multimillion dollar awards and resulted in sweeping judicial and legislative reforms.

“This practice will provide a loud and clear voice for children who cannot speak or themselves in the state and federal courts and state capitals – Florida’s most vulnerable abused, medically fragile and developmentally disabled children,” said Talenfeld, who will be joined at the firm by children’s rights attorneys Stacie J. Schmerling, Rayni A. Rabinovitz, and Nicole R. Coniglio. “The time is right to leave Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky ,Abate, & Webb, P.A. after 34 years as the firm became a nationally renown insurance regulatory, litigation and lobbying powerhouse with plans to expand.”


Agency, Senator Team Up to Help Foster Care Young Adults In Need

In a previous article on this website, entitled When is a Florida Foster Child Not a Foster Child?, we answered that question with a simple response: When the foster child is a young adult, is disabled and is in need of care. For foster abuse attorneys and lawyers who advocate for victims of neglect and oversight, the argument long has been that Florida’s disabled foster “children” aged 18 to 22 are not foster kids in the eyes of the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

Those children are caught in a catch-22. Officials at the Agency for Persons with Disabilities have believed the Department of Children and Families or Medicaid are responsible for paying for the extended care of disabled individuals in foster care. DCF and others felt ADP should be footing the bill.

With the issue getting nowhere, finally advocates and legislators stepped up.

Working together, ADP director Barbara Palmer and state Sen. Nancy Detert finally agreed fixed some legal language in a 2013 law. As a result, those Florida foster residents aged 18 to 22 who opt to stay in care will soon be able to do so. The bill will be picked up by the state.


DCF Alerted Two Weeks Before Fatal Bell Murder Suicide

Child advocates and children’s rights attorneys who protect at-risk kids and families from personal injury, wrongful death and physical and sexual abuse learned through the media the horrors that went on in the home of Don Spirit in Bell, Florida. Apparently the Spirit family and the Florida Department of Children and Families were familiar with one another, too.

Child welfare investigators had visited the family’s home in North Florida just outside Gainesville earlier this month, according to news reports. What DCF personnel found was a continuation of the life Mr. Spirit, his daughter, Sarah, and her six children had lived for years.

The grandfather, who had served jail time and had been reported for physical abuse, was there with Sarah, who also served time for various criminal offenses, including drug use. They suffered extreme poverty with little hope.

Then, last week, Mr. Spirit erupted in a violent outburst, killing Ms. Spirit, all her children, and then himself in a horrific episode that has child advocates and children’s rights attorneys puzzled as to what went wrong.


Southwest Florida Child Advocates to Gather Oct. 2 to Honor Foster Kids, Supporters

August 25th, 2014   No Comments   Advocacy, News & Events

Are you a Florida children advocate? Join Florida’s Children First, the state’s premier foster child advocacy organization, as it hosts its annual fundraiser and awards events in Sarasota this fall. The events will celebrate recent successes in the Florida Legislature, and the child advocates who help the state’s at-risk kids throughout the year.

Florida’s Children First 2014 Sarasota Reception will be held on Thursday, October 2, 2014 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM at the Sarasota Yacht Club (1100 John Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, FL 32436).

Florida’s Children First will honor child advocates in Sarasota at its annual fundraising and awards event. Community and business leaders, and all other persons concerned about the future of Florida’s children, especially abused, abandoned and neglected children and youth, will be in attendance.

The event will honor Senator Bill Galvano, Champion of Children’s Rights. Senator Galvano has been a member of the Florida Senate since 2012, representing the District, which serves DeSoto, Glades, Hardee and parts of Charlotte, Highlands, Hillsborough and Manatee Counties.


Florida Child Advocate Receives 2014 Best of Fort Lauderdale Award

June 5th, 2014   No Comments   Advocacy, News & Events

Florida Child Advocate has been selected for the 2014 Best of Fort Lauderdale Award in the Child Guidance category. Florida Child Advocate is a leading statewide advocacy and information website created to help families with at-risk children and to raise Floridians’ knowledge and awareness of foster children, special needs kids and other vulnerable citizens.

FCA Award ZGQ-NJEEach year, the Fort Lauderdale Award Program identifies companies and organizations that its believes have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category.

The 2014 Fort Lauderdale Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Fort Lauderdale Award Program and data provided by third parties.

These are local companies and organizations that enhance the positive image of small business and community outreach through service to their customers and the community at large. Such exceptional companies and organizations help make the Fort Lauderdale, South Florida and the entire Sunshine State area a great place to live, work and play.


Foster Child Attorney: Proposed Law to Provide Attorneys for Children with Disabilities Passes Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee

By a unanimous vote, SB 972, sponsored by Senator Bill Galvano (Bradenton), was approved by Florida’s Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee today with overwhelming support. The bipartisan, bicameral initiative would provide attorneys to children with disabilities in foster care, many of whom linger in foster care longer than their peers, for an average of up to five years, and sometimes longer. Representative Erik Fresen (Miami) is the sponsor of the House companion bill HB 561, which also passed unanimously during its first committee meeting.

“We are grateful to the hundreds of volunteers across the state who give their time to help our children through programs like GAL and other local legal aides, but we have a moral obligation to make sure all of our medically fragile children and their families get the care they need,” said Sen. Galvano.

Under SB 972, the attorney would provide necessary legal representation in administrative and court hearings to help children obtain the services and support they need to be safe and well and to find permanent families. Recognizing the need for skilled representation, these lawyers would represent disabled children in applications for benefits and denial of benefits from the state and federal agencies, such as the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Agency for Health Care Administration or the Social Security Administration.


Broward Child Advocacy Awards & Reception a Huge Success

March 4th, 2014   No Comments   Advocacy, News & Events

Florida’s Children First, the state’s premier child advocacy organization, held its 2014 Broward Child Advocacy Awards & Reception in February at the 110 Tower in Fort Lauderdale. It was a phenomenal success. We thank everyone who participated for making this year such a terrific effort. We have over 120 people registered for the training and had nearly 300 guests at the reception. The food was fantastic, thanks to Temptations Catering.

FCF 2014 ImageThe event honored The Children’s Services Council of Broward County.

Honorees, whose stories were truly motivational, include David Di Pietro, Aaron Dames, Taevon Pierre Harvin,  Isabella & Gabriella Glazer – Forever Family Bella’s Group.


Maria Abate, Anne V. Alper, David Bazerman, Bill Beck, Skip Campbell, Michael S. Carris, Mike Colodny, Alfreda Coward, Jesse Diner, Joel S. Fass, Dr. Ira Glazer, Marietta Glazer, Evan Goldman, Hon. Susan K. Goldstein, Charles Grimsley, Walter Honaman, , Fred Karlinsky, Belinda Keiser, Kristi Krueger, Melissa Lader Barnhart, Alan Levine, Dr. Fred Lippman. Denise Manning, Todd McPharlin, Robin Moselle, Cindy Niad Hannah, Angelica Palank, Gerald Reiss, Hon. Nan Rich, Hon. Jeremy Ring, Stacie J. Schmerling, Howard Talenfeld, Julie Talenfeld, Todd Templin, Gia Tutalo-Mote, Cindy S. Vova, Aleida Waldman and Jeffery Wank.