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Welcome to Florida Child Advocate

February 4th, 2018   No Comments   Abuse, Adoption, Advocacy

(Scroll Beyond This Introduction to Read the Latest Blog Post)

Thousands of foster children, former foster children, developmentally disabled and medically needy children are part of the Florida child care system. If you’re currently or formerly a child in – or an advocate for or parent of a child in the foster care system, Florida Child Advocate is here to help.

Every year, thousands of foster children, medically needy children, or those physically abused, sexually abused, the victims of personal injury,  legal damages, and pain and suffering are left to seek solutions on their own. No child should go through this on his or her own. And for the almost 500 who have died while under state watch, they deserved better.

This site was created by the law firm of Talenfeld Law, which was founded by nationally known Florida child advocate Howard Talenfeld, the preeminent children’s rights attorneys focusing exclusively on protecting the rights of physically and sexually abused children, developmentally disabled children and other at-risk children. Florida Child Advocate is dedicated to protecting children and addressing key issues facing those with foster care, physical abuse, child sexual abuse, social services, dependency, disability or personal injury and damages claims or lawsuits against the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), lead agencies, community based care providers, and other child welfare providers.

We believe that children belong with their own families. However, we also believe that when protective investigations by the Florida DCF and its agencies reveal that children are at high risk of neglect, child sex abuse or physical abuse by their parents, they must be placed with suitable relatives when they are available, and if not, some children must be placed in foster care. Critically, if children are going to be taken into foster care, they should be protected by the Florida Department of Children & Families and their community partners from the risk of physical and sexual abuse and returned home or placed in loving and nurturing adoptive families as quickly as possible. Topics also include the rights of foster Children to be safe from harm in care, their right to medical, psychological care, and disability benefits, their educational rights, and their rights on the road to independence.

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April: A Month of Awareness and Action for Children’s Rights

April 16th, 2024   No Comments   Abuse

As the flowers in spring bloom, we should not forget that April has been designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time when we collectively turn our attention to the silent struggles of countless abused, neglected and catastrophically injured children who face trauma and unimaginable circumstance within what should be the safety of their homes and foster care. At Justice for Kids, our commitment to uphold and protect children’s rights is not just our mission; it’s a promise—a vow to stand in the gap for the voiceless and the vulnerable.

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Oregon Capital Chronicle: DHS offers record $40 million to settle lawsuit from abused foster children

As reported by the Oregon Capital Chronicle, the Oregon Department of Human Services has agreed to pay $40 million to settle a lawsuit filed by four former foster children who were sexually and physically abused in a foster home, court records show. Read more here.



Prominent Children’s Rights Attorney Howard Talenfeld Named to Forbes Top 200 American Lawyers

March 29th, 2024   No Comments   News & Events

Howard M. Talenfeld, a leading children’s rights attorney and Business Unit Leader of Justice for Kids, a division of Kelley Kronenberg, has been recognized on Forbes’ inaugural list of America’s Top 200 Lawyers. He is one of only six lawyers on the list nationally selected for Civil Rights Law.

According to Forbes, this list highlights the finest practitioners in the profession—lawyers with stellar track records in their specialties, those who have broken barriers to emerge as leaders in their fields, and those most respected by peers and clients.

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Faith’s Law, a Law Aimed at Eradicating Sexual Misconduct at Illinois’ Schools

January 5th, 2024   No Comments   Abuse, Sexual Abuse

Faith’s Law is a law named after prevention advocate and child sexual abuse survivor Faith Colson, who was sexually abused by a teacher at her high school in Illinois.  Years later, during the course of legal proceedings related to the abuse, Faith learned that several adults within her high school suspected that the teacher’s relationship with her was inappropriate but did not take appropriate action to report their concerns.  This motivated Faith to push for change to state laws related to educator sexual misconduct in K-12 schools.

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Sexual Abuse and Negligence at an Elgin Daycare

January 4th, 2024   No Comments   Sexual Abuse

A former employee of an Elgin daycare is facing six counts of sexual abuse in connection to the abuse of two children younger than 13 years old over the course of nearly 14 years, according to the Kane County State’s Attorney’s office.  The Kane County Child Advocacy Center and the Elgin Police Department conducted the investigation, which revealed that the man, Walaitis, allegedly abused two children who were under the age of 13 between December 2008 and July 2022 while working at The Learning Tree, Elgin West.  Those investigating said Walaitis was the victims’ teacher and held a position of authority, trust, and supervision over the children at the daycare center. Walaitis is now facing six felony counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.  The attorneys at Justice for Kids are able to help victims of such abuse seek justice to remedy the wrongs suffered.



DCF Must Pay $15 Million to a Child for Failing to Protect her From Horrific Abuse, a Jury Decided

January 2nd, 2024   No Comments   Abuse, Court Cases

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) failed to investigate complaints that the mother was using drugs and endangering her child, who suffered “catastrophic” permanent injuries from severe abuse and neglect.  The child, H.H., is now eight years old and completely dependent on others for all aspects of her daily functioning, according to Justice for Kids, which represented her.  The award is among the largest in state history for this kind of case.  The jury’s verdict speaks to “the sheer magnitude and severity” of the girl’s injuries, attorney Stacie Schmerling said.   The Department received a report through its abuse hotline about H.H. and her brother in May 2017, concerning drug activity in the home and poor living conditions.   Moreover, the stepfather, who lived in the home and was a caregiver to H.H., had a criminal history that included arrests for violent crimes, the complaint says.

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Sun-Sentinel: Four relatives face charges in Margate teen’s decade of alleged abuse. Police expect more arrests.

December 22nd, 2023   No Comments   Abuse

As reported by the Sun-Sentinel, “It took one text message to a teacher to uncover years of alleged abuse that a 15-year-old girl said she suffered at the hands of her caregivers.”

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Family Awarded $13.5 Million for Adoption that Led to Molestation Following a Trial Led by Justice for Kids

December 19th, 2023   No Comments   Court Cases, Negligence

Following a seven-day trial led by the Justice for Kids Team, a jury awarded $13.5 million to a family that suffered harm after the adoption agency Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) failed to warn them about psychological problems that make their adopted son unsafe to be around their daughters, one of whom was later molested.  The $13.5 million dollar verdict against JFCS validated claims by the boy’s adoptive parents that the nonprofit failed to convey how risky it would be to place the boy in their home.  “They cannot escape accountability,” attorney Justin Grosz told jurors during final arguments for the seven-day trial, which centered on whether Jewish Family staff failed before adoption to alert the couple to behavioral problems that could last a lifetime.

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WPLG: Relative who worked at child abuse nonprofit is latest arrest in Margate teen torture case

December 14th, 2023   No Comments   Abuse

As reported by WPLG Local 10, authorities arrested a former worker at a child abuse prevention organization in connection with an investigation into an alleged house of torture. This happened in Margate, FL where multiple family members are accused of brutalizing, caging and starving a 15-year-old girl for years.



WFTS: Citrus County taking over investigation of foster care abuse allegations

December 9th, 2023   No Comments   Abuse, Foster Care

As reported by ABC Action News, a group of individuals is accusing their former foster parents, Jacklyn and Jerold Logemann, of abuse. After nine kids in foster care were removed from their home, a criminal investigation was launched regarding allegations from former foster kids and the current living conditions at the home, according to police records.

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Orlando Sentinel: Jury orders Florida to pay $15 million to Volusia girl tortured by parents

December 9th, 2023   No Comments   Abuse, Court Cases

A young girl has been awarded a $15 million verdict against the Florida Department of Children & Families for negligently investigating abuse reports. Stacie Schmerling and Lisa Elliott, attorneys with the Justice for Kids Division of Kelley Kronenberg, represented the eight-year-old girl, who was tortured and suffered permanent traumatic brain injury and quadriplegia from repeated episodes of abusive head trauma.

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Justice for Kids Leader Howard Talenfeld Honored at Keiser University Choice Awards

November 21st, 2023   No Comments   News & Events, Uncategorized

Howard M. Talenfeld, a leading children’s rights attorney and Business Unit Leader of Justice for Kids, a division of Kelley Kronenberg, was recently recognized as an honoree at the Keiser University Choice Awards – Minority Community Leaders Gala on November 17.

This special event recognized and celebrated the achievements of individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to minority communities, fostering a sense of community and empowerment. It also brought together leaders from diverse backgrounds to share their experiences and resources to strengthen their collective impact.

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