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Children’s Rights Lawyer Stacie J. Schmerling Receives AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell

May 30th, 2018   No Comments   Uncategorized

Stacie J. Schmerling, a children’s rights lawyer and partner with Talenfeld Law, has earned an AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating, the highest peer rating standard awarded by Martindale-Hubbell®. Schmerling is a former veteran child welfare investigator and has been involved in many significant, multimillion dollar cases in the area of civil rights and child welfare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Urge the Constitution Revision Commission To Do Right by Foster Children

January 6th, 2018   No Comments   Uncategorized

Please help Florida lead the nation by supporting Amendment 40. Our children need our help. Read this commentary piece below from firm Founder Howard Talenfeld for more information on this important issue.

Click here to read more in the Daily Business Review.

Howard Talenfeld Profiled in the Daily Business Review

June 19th, 2017   No Comments   Uncategorized

Firm founder and Managing Partner Howard Talenfeld was recently profiled in the Daily Business Review. You can read more about his journey to becoming one of the nation’s preeminent children’s rights attorneys here.

Click here to read Howard’s profile in the Daily Business Review.

Florida Foster Families Help Children Find a Brighter Future

February 23rd, 2017   No Comments   Uncategorized

How important are foster families to Florida’s kids? Statewide, more than 6,000 children have found homes and adoption through Florida’s foster families. That’s an important figure. But their stories tell a more rich tale.

Statewide, foster children, and others face unknown futures and possible harm on the streets or in social service settings. Foster families provide protection, safety, and a roof to protect them from otherwise stormy lives.

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US: Florida Department of Children & Families Needs Foster Kids Plan

January 20th, 2017   No Comments   Uncategorized

A study from the Children’s Bureau, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has found that the Florida Department of Children and Families is underperforming related its care of foster children in several critical areas. HHS reviewed 80 such cases and has given the state 90 days to deliver a plan to improve its delivery of care.

From removal of kids from homes under the order of child welfare agencies “without first providing appropriate services and were lax in following safety plans” to “struggling to provide counseling and therapy for every foster kid who needs them,” state services were found wanting, according to a Tampa Bay Times article on the study.

“This holds up a light to the people in the state and helps us see how our agency is doing,” Robin Rosenberg, deputy director of Florida’s Children First, told the Times. “For so many areas to be falling below standard is a wakeup call.”

Autistic Miami Man Incompetent to Stand Trial on Charges of Child-Porn

October 1st, 2016   No Comments   Uncategorized

“Tony Rodriguez, an autistic Miami man with an IQ of 73, is no longer a criminal defendant facing trial on charges of downloading child porn. The 25-year-old is finally free after two years under indictment, thanks to a federal judge who found him “incompetent” to assist in his own defense. Rodriguez’s mother, Maria, cried in court Wednesday when U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro asked her how she felt about the decision and about placing her son in a group home in Homestead that “addresses behavioral excesses” under the supervision of the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities,” according to the Miami Herald.

Read the entire story here.

Please join us for The Dylan Schopp Sunshine Foundation’s Sunshine at the Park

January 13th, 2016   No Comments   Uncategorized

Talenfeld Law is a proud sponsor of The Dylan Schopp Sunshine Foundation’s Sunshine at the Park event. Join us March 5th to raise awareness for suicide prevention. Get your tickets today: https://sunshineatthepark.eventbrite.com/

#SpreadtheSunshine

Florida Child Advocates Debate Foster Homes vs. Group Homes for At-Risk Kids

January 13th, 2015   No Comments   Uncategorized

When the Florida Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability released a study in December on the price and value of placing the state’s at-risk, abused and troubled children in group homes versus foster homes, the findings were not surprising to some who fight to protect the rights and safety of at-risk youths.

The study found that group homes are more expensive than foster homes, yet only one in 10 kids removed from their families are placed with suitable foster situations, like with relatives, friends or foster homes.

Group homes can provide higher levels of professional attention, especially for the most troubled kids. Not all kids – or all kids’ needs – are the same.

The key is to find the balance and serve kids’ particular needs, as well as those of the foster parents who often struggle to provide a suitable, loving home, noted Christina Spudeas, executive director of Florida’s Children First. The organization is the state’s premier child advocacy group. Some kids are tough to place, even with caring foster parents willing to take on the task.

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Child Advocates: State Officials’ Lack of Transparency Places Foster Children at Risk

December 23rd, 2014   No Comments   Uncategorized

When a Miami Herald investigation, “Innocents Lost,” in spring 2014 revealed almost 500 children  had died while under the watch of the Florida Department of Children and Families and its contracted community based care providers, state child welfare officials promised kids, families, child advocates and child abuse lawyers who fight to protect the rights of abused children that changes would come. Now, another newspaper article questions if those promised changes and reforms have been shelved or shrouded in secrecy.

In its latest investigation, “Transparency Lost,” the paper has discovered that while DCF set aside nearly $50 million to investigators, the state legislature instituted laws designed to help ensure kids “in the system” are protected from abuse, and greater oversights were put in place, enactment and follow-through of those changes has been slow, even thwarted. 

Lawmakers stated that they wanted to see more openness from agency administrators, and mandated a website to track child deaths. DCF, in turn, vowed to learn from its mistakes, even if it meant enduring an occasional public relations beating,” the paper reported. DCF even promised following the deaths of six children shot this fall by their grandfather, “There will never be one child who dies without DCF working to determine what changes can be made or processes improved to prevent further tragedy.”

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Death of Autistic Girls at Residential Facility has Child Advocate Attorneys Hoping Lessons Will be Learned

September 20th, 2014   No Comments   Uncategorized

For any child advocate or attorney who represents at-risk children facing wrongful death, neglect, physical or sexual abuse or other personal injury, the complaints surrounding Carlton Palms Educational Center in Lake County seemingly are continued cause for alarm.

The July 2013 death of Paige Elizabeth Lunsford, a 14-year-old autistic girl, have state officials looking into Carlton Palms, a residential center for severely disabled children and adults. Officials with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities are calling for the center to stop accepting new patients. APD officials also are calling for the firing of Carlton Palms’ medical director.

The most recent calls stem from the death of Miss Lunsford, who came to the center from South Florida child. Her disability rendered her unable to speak. Soon after her arrival, she began vomiting, which lasted for several days. Her illness was made worse by medical neglect and inadequate supervision, noted the Florida Department of Children and Families.

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New Report Shows Counties Suffer in Caring for At-Risk Children

September 16th, 2014   No Comments   Uncategorized

A recent report issued by child-welfare professionals has found Miami-Dade and Monroe counties’ efforts and systems to protect vulnerable and at-risk children suffers “major problems.” The news comes on the heels of a recent investigative report that found that almost 500 kids statewide had died or suffered wrongful death while under the watch of the Florida Department of Children and Families. Every day, kids under state watch or in the care of its community based care providers suffer physical, emotional or sexual abuse. For all the money spent on child welfare services in Florida, these truths are stark and saddening.

The most recent report was issued by experts enlisted earlier this year by the Department of Children and Families and its Interim Secretary Mike Carroll. The system is strained by a rise in kids in state care, and the DCF and its network of service providers are struggling to handle the burden.

Miami-Dade and Monroe counties outpace the state in the children receiving in-home services, the report noted. In those two counties alone, numbers rose more than 63 percent; statewide, the figure was 1% between May 2013 and July 2014. Read a news article on the report here.

Meanwhile, names like Nubia Barahona, Rilya Wilson and others are seared into our collective memories as children who suffered and died after finding their way through the state child welfare system.

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Florida Foster Child Abuse Attorneys Shocked as Herald Reports That DCF Hid More Child Deaths

June 1st, 2014   No Comments   Uncategorized

When Florida child attorneys and foster child advocates read with horror “Innocents Lost,” the Miami Herald’s reports of almost 500 Florida foster children and at-risk kids who died while under the watch or awareness of the Department of Children and Families, outrage focused on how kids known to the agency could have died.

Now, the outrage is growing anew. According to today’s Miami Herald, “Documents obtained after Innocents Lost was published show that starting at least as early as last November, as the Herald was grilling DCF on its problems in preventing the deaths of children under its watch, one branch of the agency deliberately kept as many as 30 deaths off the books — ensuring they would not be included in the published tally.”

If true, the reports show an inexplicable pattern of non-transparency and a deliberate effort to hide from the public an ongoing epidemic of children’s deaths. Read the entire story here.