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Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

Five Florida Agencies Unite to Improve Educational Opportunities for Foster Youth

August 12th, 2009   No Comments   Education Issues, Foster Care

The heads of five Florida state agencies formally agreed today to work together to ensure that children in state care — including foster children — receive an appropriate, high-quality and stable education.

Signing the Interagency Agreement to Coordinate Services for Children Served by the Florida Child Welfare System were the heads of the Department of Children and Families (DCF), the Department of Education (DOE), the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), and the Agency for Workforce Innovation (AWI).

Click here to see the Guide to Improve Educational Opportunities for Florida’s Foster Youth.

Signers say that the agreement will go a long way toward ensuring that foster children receive the coordinated services and the stability they need to succeed in school and beyond. (more…)

It’s Time to Create a Florida Statewide Office of the Children’s Advocate

August 4th, 2009   No Comments   Foster Care, News & Events

This profile of Florida child advocate attorney Howard Talenfeld appeared in the August 2009 issue of Florida Bar News.

By Jan Pudlow
Senior Editor

Howard Talenfeld, the new chair of The Florida Bar’s Legal Needs of Children Committee, is on a mission to make a seven-year-old dream come true.

In 2002, the Number One priority and unanimous recommendation of the committee’s predecessor, the Legal Needs of Children Commission, was to create a Statewide Office of the Children’s Advocate, to oversee both legal attorney-client and guardian ad litem representation to children in court.

Howard Talenfeld For three years, that original hardworking group of Florida lawyers, judges, and experts on children’s issues, chaired by 11th Circuit Judge Sandy Karlan, wrestled with how best to represent children in court — whether in dependency, delinquency, civil, probate and guardianship, domestic violence, or high-conflict custody proceedings.

In the end, they envisioned the new office would play a critical role in providing a voice for children so they can meaningfully present their positions and needs and wishes to the court. (more…)

Florida Uses Electronic Records to Place Foster Kids in Relatives’ Homes Out-of-State

June 5th, 2009   No Comments   Foster Care

Waiting for a permanent home for weeks or months may feel like an eternity to a Florida child in foster care.

It is especially frustrating when a grandmother, aunt or other relative living out of state is ready and willing to provide a home for a boy or girl removed from a family because of abuse or neglect.

The Florida Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) response has been to implement a fully electronic database to facilitate the transfer of dependent children outside of Florida.

Once the Department committed itself last year to speeding up out-of-state transfer of a child by using electronic records, DCF has significantly reduced the time it takes to exchange required information about the child with the appropriate state. Florida is the leader among the states in its use of electronic records for what is known as the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).

The price-tag on converting to electronic records was $3,000, and about $100,000 a year is being saved on postage. (more…)

Florida Foster Children Get Too Many Psychotropic Drugs With Too Little Oversight from State DCF

June 1st, 2009   No Comments   Foster Care, Psychotropic

Gabriel Myers (image from Florida DCF)The Florida Department of Children and Families Work Group issued its report on the role psychotropic medications played in the April suicide of Gabriel Myers – and the results were stark and unacceptable.

In the report issued this week, the DCF reported that 2,669 of Florida’s 20,235 foster children under the age of 17 were given one or more psychotropic drugs – with one in six, or about 16 percent, lacking required permissions. Some 73 kids 5 or younger are on the drugs.

Most shocking: Florida passed a law in 2005 requiring parental consent or a judge’s approval before administering psychotropic drugs.

Why is this important? These powerful psychological and mood-altering medications are used to control children’s behavior often in lieu of appropriate behavioral interventions. Many are often prescribed even though there is no FDA approval and there are significant side effects, including depression that could lead to suicide. Thus, they must be administered in appropriate situations where behavioral interventions have been exhausted, with a court order and under the close supervision of prescribing physicians well versed with the individual child’s health and care regimen. (more…)

Florida DCF Workgroup to Research Death of Foster Child, Gabriel Myers

Department of Children and Families Secretary Convenes Workgroup to Evaluate Circumstances Surrounding Death of 7-year-old in Foster Care

TALLAHASSEE, FL — Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary George H. Sheldon today announced that the Department is establishing a  workgroup to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the tragic death of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers.

Gabriel died on April 16 when police indicated he apparently hanged himself in the shower of his foster parents’ Margate home.

Following Gabriel’s death, the Department of Children and Families petitioned the court to release case files and notes relating to the child while in state care. Normally, case files are only made public following a death that is verified as a result of abuse or neglect, per Florida Statutes. However, DCF believed it was in the public interest to open the records to public scrutiny. A judge agreed and the petition was granted on April 22, 2009. (more…)

NY Times: Suit Contends New York City Failed to Prevent Adoption Fraud

April 30th, 2009   No Comments   Damage Claims, Foster Care

From the New York Times: 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.

The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, claims that the woman, Judith Leekin, 64, who is now in prison, was able to carry out her scheme for so long because the city’s child welfare authorities did not adequately investigate her fitness as a mother or monitor the children’s care in her home.

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. Click to read the entire New York Times article.