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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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Jury Awards Father $4.5 Million in Damages in Wrongful Death Case Involving Broward Sheriff’s Office

August 18th, 2023   No Comments   Abuse, Court Cases, Negligence

Christopher Nevarez, the father of Makenzie Nevarez, a 6-month-old baby girl who suffered catastrophic injuries and later passed away from blunt force trauma, has been awarded $4.5 million in damages in a wrongful death case involving the Broward Sheriff’s Office for failure to protect his daughter.

Justin Grosz and Stacie Schmerling, partners with Justice for Kids at Kelley Kronenberg, represented Makenzie’s father and grandmother in the case, which alleged that the child protection investigator, under the auspices of BSO at the time, could have done more to further investigate previous injuries and keep Makenzie safe while in the care of her mother and her mother’s roommate.

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Sun-Sentinel: Family of baby killed in abuse case seeking $15 million from Broward Sheriff’s Office

August 15th, 2023   No Comments   Court Cases, Negligence

Jury deliberations are underway in this Justice for Kids case involving the death of 6-month-old Makenzie Nevarez. Her family is accusing the Broward Sheriff’s Office of negligence.

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Sun-Sentinel: A baby girl who was the subject of an abuse investigation was killed. Now, a trial begins that accuses child-welfare officials of negligence.

August 9th, 2023   No Comments   Court Cases, Negligence

Justice for Kids is in court this week regarding a lawsuit about 6-month-old baby Makenzie Nevarez, whose babysitter went to prison in her death. They have alleged that Broward Sheriff’s Office was negligent, arguing the child protection investigator, under the auspices of the agency at the time, could have done more to further the investigation and keep the baby safe.

Makenzie had previously been taken to hospitals in northwest Broward twice for unexplained injuries before BSO put her back into the care of the mother and her roommate who was often the babysitter. Tragically, she died more than a week later.



New Report Shows Florida Has Nation’s Highest Rate of Kids Visiting ERs For Preventable Dental Issues

July 21st, 2023   No Comments   Uncategorized

As reported by Florida Politics, a new report shows that most young children’s visits to emergency departments were related to a lack of preventive care, even when Medicaid covers the services.

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Jury Awards $485 Million in Damages in Foster Child Sexual Abuse Case

July 21st, 2023   No Comments   Sexual Abuse

A New Mexico jury has awarded $485 million in damages in a civil case involving a child sexually assaulted in foster care.

As reported by AP, the program allegedly placed the girl in the home of a foster parent despite knowing that he had been accused of sexual assault.

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Federal judge orders Florida child welfare and health administrators to stop placing medically fragile kids in nursing homes

U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks has ruled that Florida must find better placement options for medically fragile kids and neglected disabled children who are placed in nursing homes. According to an article in the Miami Herald, about 140 medically fragile children live in nursing homes, with another 1,800 at risk.

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Recent Updates to the Roles and Duties of Guardian ad Litems in Illinois

A guardian ad litem (GAL) is an important advocate for children who may be the victims of child abuse or child neglect.

With the passing of House Bill 1555, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (the statute currently governing the roles and duties) has been amended to prevent trial surprises and ensure transparency.   Among the changes are provisions requiring a written report not less than 30 days before final hearing or trial, allowing the GAL to propose an allocation order in addition to the report, and admission of the report into evidence without foundation.  The bill also grants GALs discretionary powers including presence in all proceedings, issuing subpoenas for records and filing pleadings.  Read more here.

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Bill Reforming Sentencing for Victims of Child Sex Trafficking by Considering Child’s Involvement in Welfare System

Illinois’ General Assembly recently passed legislation that aims to reform criminal sentencing for minors, particularly those who are victims of child sex trafficking.  House Bill 3414 adds to the factors that judges must consider when sentencing a child found guilty of a crime.  Judges will now be required to consider a child’s involvement in the child welfare system, whether they have a history of domestic abuse or child-on-child sexual abuse, and the results of any mental health evaluations the child has undergone.  Sadly, many of these children are victims of sexual abuse or they are neglected disabled children.

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State Senator’s Legislation Reinforcing DCFS’ Permanency Goals to Protect Child Welfare Passes the Senate

Recently introduced House Bill 3705 amends the Illinois’ Children and Family Services Act to reinforce the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services’ (DCFS) duty to children in foster care as well as its responsibility for placing youth in permanent family homes through guardianship or adoption (as opposed to adoptive homes) when restoration to the biological family is not safe, possible or otherwise appropriate. Proper placements are crucial in preventing foster child abuse, child sexual abuse, and child neglect.

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Judge Strikes Qualified Immunity for Illinois Child Abuse Offenders and DCFS

A federal lawsuit recently held child abuse pediatricians, hospitals, and the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) accountable for their actions with regard to situations involving Illinois child welfare.  In his recent ruling, Judge Joe B. McDade of the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, denied the motion to dismiss filed by Dr. Channing Petrak, thereby establishing that she does not have qualified immunity.

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Liberty One: Florida Couple Kept 5-Year-Old In Dog Cage, Forced Another Child To Drink Boiling Water

June 7th, 2023   No Comments   Abuse

As reported by Liberty One, The Volusia Sheriff’s Office recently arrested a Florida couple on charges related to what they are calling “a brutal pattern of child neglect, abuse, and torture.”

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The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) placed a child sexual assault victim into the care of a pimp with a lengthy criminal history

DCFS licensed a three-time convicted felon as a foster parent and subsequently placed a 16-year-old sex trafficking victim into his care.  DCFS placed the girl with the 24-year-old pimp, Erick Johnson, just months after he was released from federal prison after a 24-month sentence on a firearms charge.  Before that, Johnson spent three years in state prison for two robbery convictions.  Despite all that, he passed placement clearance and was approved by DCFS to become a foster parent.  While the child was in his care,  he profited from tax money as a foster parent while he forced the juvenile into prostitution by putting up an advertisement on a known sex website.  The girl has been raped, trafficked, abused, beaten up , and she has been shot, leaving a bullet in her leg.  Nearly a year ago, a DCFS hired psychologist told the child welfare agency that the girl needed to be in a “secure residential treatment sex trafficking program.”  However, the girl has not received the treatment she needs for the trauma the agency’s carelessness caused.

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