Foster Care Issues in the News
Recently Published Articles and Media Appearances
The following articles and appearances represent relevant news related to advancements and legal precedent in foster care and child advocacy.
- Howard Talenfeld was quoted by the Daytona Beach News-Journal in a story on the state of Florida’s failing grade in foster care and child representation.
- The Florida Bar News explores Legislation Committee and Legal Needs of Children Committee debate over the differences — if any — when a guardian ad litem investigates and advocates for a child in Florida dependency court, versus an attorney who does so.
- The St. Petersburg Times / St. Petersburg, FL – July 25, 2009 – Officials Working on Better Way to Track Foster Kids’ Medical, Court HistoriesThe Department of Children and Families’ Gabriel Myers Workgroup met for the fifth time on Friday. Members want fewer but better forms tracking foster children to lessen the burden on case managers already swamped with cases of paperwork in their cars.
- The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – July 23, 2009 – Crist Urged to Halt ‘Chemical Restraint’ of Florida Foster KidsAs Gov. Charlie Crist barnstormed the state to boast about record adoptions in Florida, two adoptive parents urged him Tuesday to go a step further and stop what they called the “chemical restraint” of over-medicated children in state care.
- The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – July 15, 2009 – Don’t Bend the Law When Giving Foster Kids Drugs Gabriel Myers was a 7-year-old boy whose world was collapsing when he hanged himself in a foster home in Margate. He was among 268 children between the ages of 6 and 7 medicated while in state care. A new state study looking at whether these children were treated according to the law points to a total disregard of the law by a majority of case workers and medical professionals making life-and-death decisions. The irony is case workers now are employed by private firms under contract with the state. Weren’t they supposed to do better by Florida’s children than the old system of state workers?
- The Orlando Sentinel / Orlando, FL – July 12, 2009 – More Than 70 Caseworkers Lied About Efforts to Protect Children During the past two years, more than 70 Florida child-welfare workers have been caught falsifying records — lying about their on-the-job efforts to protect children, according to state and county records reviewed by the Orlando Sentinel. As a consequence, the Florida Department of Children and Families temporarily lost track of at least six children, sometimes for months. Fourteen children were left in unsafe homes, the Sentinel found in a review of agency records.
- The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – July 7, 2009 – System Faulted in Margate Boy’s Suicide While in Foster Care Child-welfare doctors and case managers routinely failed to complete legally required treatment plans, share information or properly document the prescribing of powerful psychiatric drugs for children, according to a new state study of 6- and 7-year-olds medicated in state care.
- The Buzz: News From The St. Pete Times Staff / St. Petersburg, FL – July 7, 2009 – Florida DCF’s Child Drugging Problems Child welfare doctors and case managers routinely failed to complete legally required treatment plans, share information or properly document the prescribing of powerful psychiatric drugs for children, according to a new state study of 6- and 7-year-olds medicated in state care.
- The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – July 2, 2009 – Aged-Out Foster Child Faces Possible Homelessness For Selim Isimer’s next birthday, his parent — the state of Florida — plans to kick him out of the house. Being shown the door on your 18th birthday would prove daunting for any foster kid. Twenty percent end up homeless without public assistance. For Selim, it would be disastrous: He has autism and mental retardation.
- South Florida Sun-Sentinel / Fort Lauderdale, FL – July 1, 2009 – Florida Department of Children & Families Names New Southeast Regional Director The state Department of Children & Families didn’t have to look far to find a new southeast regional director, announcing Wednesday that its top official in Palm Beach County will be taking over the job. Perry Borman, 45, will oversee DCF administrative and program offices in both Broward and Palm Beach counties, replacing Jack Moss. Moss retired Tuesday after eight years as DCF’s Broward County administrator, the last two of which he also served as the region’s director.
- The Sun-Sentinel / Fort Lauderdale, FL – June 26, 2009 – Once Troubled ChildNet Foster Care Agency Signs 5-Year Contract With Broward The private nonprofit agency running Broward County’s child welfare system in April 2007 seemed on the verge of chaos — FBI agents raided its main office, the state threatened to pull funding and the group’s board fired the chief executive officer. On Thursday, the group’s president signed a $333 million contract with the state Department of Children & Families to continue managing Broward foster care for the next five years.
- The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – June 19, 2009 – Kids Need Care, Not Pills, Ex-Foster Children Tell Panel A state group looking at the suicide of a young foster child met Thursday to discuss ways to improve care and listened to adults who said they were overmedicated in the foster-care system.
- MyFox Tampa Bay / Tampa, FL – June 19, 2009 – New Home Offers Hope to Foster Teens With every shovel of dirt, volunteers work hard to finish the first case managed, aging out foster care facility in the state. Right now, foster care children turning 18 in Florida, age out of the system and start to live independently for the first time. In some cases those teens fall into trouble.
- CBS 4 / Miami, FL – June 18, 2009 – Florida Officials Struggle To Reform Foster System As state officials wade through the systemwide failures that led to the suicide of 7-year-old foster child Gabriel Myers in April, two issues come up repeatedly: the alarming use of psychotropic medications and the inability of doctors, foster parents and case workers to track problems with such powerful medications.
- St. Petersburg Times / St. Petersburg, FL – June 7, 2009 – Foster Care Failures Two disturbing facts about the Florida foster care system have emerged following the suicide of a 7-year-old boy on psychiatric drugs. First is the extraordinary prescription rate for children under the supervision of the Department of Children and Families. Second is the alarming revelation that a 2005 law aimed at tackling that problem has been repeatedly and systemically ignored.
- Daytona Beach news-Journal / Daytona Beach, FL – May 29, 2009 – More Florida Foster Kids on Meds More local foster children are on psychotropic medications than the state average, according to a state review done following the suicide of a 7-year-old foster child in South Florida. The state Department of Children & Families released a report Thursday showing 2,669 foster children 17 and younger are on one or more psychotropic drugs, including 127 in Volusia, Flagler and Putnam counties.
- The Sun-Sentinel / Fort Lauderdale, FL – May 29, 2009 – State survey: Almost 1 Florida Foster Child in 6 Being Given Drugs Almost one of every six foster children on mood-altering drugs in Florida is being given the medications without the court order or parental consent mandated by law, according to a study released Thursday by the state Department of Children & Families. DCF Secretary George Sheldon acknowledged there was “no rational basis” for 433 foster children in Florida being administered the psychotropic drugs without the required permission, as the study found.
- Sun-Sentinel.com / Fort Lauderdale, Florida – May 23, 2009 – Child Welfare Case Shows Oversight Lax Gabriel Myers came into this world shortly after his mother tested positive for Benzodiazepine, a powerful tranquilizer while she was in labor. Seven years later he was dead, his body found hanging in a bathroom of his foster-care home in Margate.
- The Miami Herald / Miami, Florida – May 22, 2009 – Florida Child Abuse is More Severe in Bad Times Every time a child dies from abuse in Florida, Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon receives an e-mail on his Blackberry. One of those messages came last month during Shaken Baby Syndrome Awareness Week, letting Sheldon know that an 8-month-old Bradenton girl died after her mother’s boyfriend shook her vigorously several times. It’s a situation Sheldon says has become more common as the economy gets worse.
- The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – April 29, 2009 – DCF Hosting Summer Camps For Foster Children The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) is hosting its second annual “Camp Sib,” a five-day camp experience for separated siblings in out-of-home foster care. During the week of May 22-29, 2009, about 100 Florida foster children, ages 6-17, will spend quality time together, reunite with their siblings and enjoy fun activities at Camp La-No-Che, a Boy Scout camp, in Paisley, Florida.
- The New York Times / New York, NY – April 30, 2009 – Suit Contends City Failed to Prevent Adoption Fraud New York City violated the rights of 10 disabled children who were adopted more than a decade ago by a former Queens woman who abused them and used government subsidies meant for their care to support a lavish lifestyle, according to a federal lawsuit filed on Wednesday. Two Florida lawyers involved in the suit, Theodore Babbitt of West Palm Beach and Howard Talenfeld of Fort Lauderdale, said New York officials have refused to provide the children with what they described as any meaningful assistance in Florida since Ms. Leekin’s arrest in 2007. “They learned no skills that would allow them to survive in this world, and yet the City of New York just turned their back a second time,” Mr. Talenfeld said.
- South Florida Sun-Sentinel Society – March 11, 2009 – Florida’s Children First Honors Bob Butterworth – More than 300 child advocates, lawyers, judges, politicians and others concerned about foster care gathered at Fort Lauderdale’s Riverside Hotel February 19, to honor those who are making a difference in the lives of foster children. Florida Children’s First President Howard Talenfeld, a staunch child advocate and shareholder with Colodny Fass Talenfeld Karlinsky & Abate, recognized Bob Butterworth for his work as the former Secretary of the Department of Children & Families and Florida Attorney General.
- Youth Today – Feb. 5, 2009 – “State Workers Found Liable in Foster Care Abuse Ruling.” This news article reports how “foster care workers can be held liable if the children they place in foster homes are sexually abused by other children in the home.”
- The Florida Times Union – Feb. 3, 2009 – “State to Pay $2.9 Million in Nassau Foster Care Abuse Case.” Three children sexually assaulted in a foster home a decade ago sued the Florida DCF. Conceding a settlement should have been reached long ago, the state has agreed to pay $2.9 million to three children sexually abused by older kids in a Nassau County foster home. The agreement follows an appellate decision lawyers called unprecedented that gave the children the right to sue the Florida Department of Children and Families for placing them in a home where danger lurked.
- Daily Business Review – Feb. 3, 2009 - “Fla. Bar Joins Fight Against State’s Ban on Adoptions by Gays.” The Florida Bar is coming out in a big way — for gay adoption. The Bar’s board of governors voted unanimously to file an amicus brief before the 3rd District Court of Appeal supporting a Miami-Dade circuit judge’s ruling that declared unconstitutional the state’s ban on gay adoptions. Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman ruled in November that the state’s ban on gay adoption was unconstitutional.·
- The Florida Times-Union – Dec. 16, 2008 — “DCF Slapped Over Sloppy Records.” The Florida Department of Children and Families repeatedly violated state laws and its own procedures by not releasing records to lawyers for children in a Nassau County foster home abuse case, an internal report by the department’s general counsel obtained by the Times-Union says.
· The Miami Herald -- Dec. 16, 2008 — “Lawsuit Stands for Raped Foster Kids.” A federal appeals court let stand a civil rights lawsuit brought by three former foster children who say they were repeatedly raped after caseworkers put them in a Jacksonville foster home with older children known to be sexual predators.
· Daily Business Review — Feb. 25, 2008 — “Jury Verdicts and Settlements: Institutional Negligence” A boy sexually abused in a foster home receives $1.6 million from the state of Florida Department of Children and Families after legal action was taken against the organization.
· Daily Business Review -- Nov. 30, 2007 — “Parental rights receive boost from recent court rulings” This article highlights recent court rulings regarding increasing the degree of proof needed to prove bad parenting before granting access to children by third parties.
· The National Law Journal -- Nov. 26, 2007 — “Parental rights getting a boost from courts” Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate Shareholder Howard Talenfeld was featured in an article about third-party claims for custody and visitation of children.
· The Miami Herald -- Nov. 11, 2007 — “Concerned lawyer helps launch war on Web predators” This article profiles a statewide Cybersafety tour, and its arrival in Broward County.
· South Florida Sun-Sentinel -- Oct. 18, 2007 — “Officials wonder: Could murder of Sunrise girl have been prevented?” This article delved into the case of the murder of a Sunrise girl, and whether it could have been prevented by the State.
· Daily Business Review -- Sept. 28, 2007 — “State settles DCF case for $14 million” The state of Florida settled a high-profile case regarding a lawsuit on behalf of foster children placed by the state Department of Children and Families into care with a woman against whom multiple abuse reports had been filed.
· Sarasota Herald-Tribune -- Sept. 28, 2007 — “State pays $14 million to foster children in abuse case” Florida agreed to pay $14 million to foster children in a high-profile case brought against the state.
· The Miami Herald -- May 17, 2002 — “DCF to pay $5 million to six kids in Broward.” This article references a $5 million settlement paid by the state to six Broward County children — the highest amount paid to date, and the role persistent critic and attorney Howard Talenfeld played in the case.
· South Florida Sun-Sentinel -- May 17, 2002 — “DCF to pay $5 million in siblings’ abuse case” Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate Shareholder Howard Talenfeld, who sued the DCF on behalf of the children was featured in this article about the $5 million suit.
· Estate Lifestyle – Feb. 2008 — “Making His Mark” Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate Shareholder Howard Talenfeld was featured in the February, 2008 issue of Estate Lifestyle’s cover story. The article focuses on Mr. Talenfeld’s role as child advocate.
· Florida Trend — Feb., 2008 — “Putting Children First.” This article profiles Howard Talenfeld, and the role he has played in child advocacy issues.
· South Florida Sun-Sentinel -- Mar. 10, 2008 — “Florida’s Children First hosts record-breaking fundraiser at NSU” Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate Shareholder and Florida’s Children First (“FCF”) President Howard Talenfeld was featured in an article about a recent record-breaking fundraiser, which brought in more thatn $125,000 to FCF, the State’s leading child advocacy group.