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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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A baby died in foster care in Marion. Now two social service agencies face negligence case.

August 2nd, 2022   No Comments   Court Cases

Stacie Schmerling and Lisa Elliott of Kelley Kronenberg’s Justice for Kids Division have filed a lawsuit against two social service agencies on behalf of the estate of an infant who died while in foster care in Marion County. Read more in this article from the Ocala StarBanner here.

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In lawsuits, Turpin siblings say foster parents beat them, forced them to eat vomit

July 22nd, 2022   No Comments   Abuse

As reported by the Desert Sun, “Six of the Turpin siblings have filed lawsuits against Riverside County and a foster care provider, saying they faced further abuse after being rescued from decades of confinement and malnourishment at the hands of their parents.”

Read more here.



Distraught parents still waiting for answers from Homestead daycare after death of 9-month-old son

July 21st, 2022   No Comments   daycare negligence

Another tragic daycare death from overheating raises questions about daycare‘s negligence.

Read more from WPLG Local 10 here.



Another Child Death from Neglect After Being Left in a Motor Vehicle

July 11th, 2022   No Comments   Negligence

As reported by WPLG Local 10, “Detectives are investigating how a 3-year-old boy died inside a car outside of a school on Monday afternoon in Miami Gardens.

According to the Miami Gardens Police Department, officers responded just after 3:45 p.m. to the Lubavitch Educational Center, at 17330 NW 7th Ave. Fire Rescue personnel used a helicopter to fly the boy to the hospital where a doctor pronounced him dead, police said.”

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What ‘Safety First’ for Children Should Mean

June 22nd, 2022   No Comments   Abuse

The following was published in the New York Law Journal.  Click here to read the full text on ResearchGate.

As a policy matter, we must address and end the circumstances of parents who raise allegations of abuse of their child during the pendency of a divorce from being unjustly attacked as being the problem. To shield these parents from attack requires absolute adherence to child safety protocols before any custody actions are considered. In other words, investigations and hearings should be held on the sole issue of safety rather than permitting the merging of such allegations into a custody matter.



Lawsuit: DCF accused of keeping kids from relatives, adopting them to system-connected strangers

As reported by ABC Action News in Tampa, Taniyah and Rodney Williams are among four Florida families now suing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and leaders of Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) along with several other state foster care organizations.

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Tallahassee Democrat: Frustrated foster parents support attorneys for children

June 14th, 2022   No Comments   Foster Care

As foster parents licensed by Florida’s Department of Children and Families, my wife and I are directly responsible for meeting critical day-to-day needs of the children in our home. Whether it is getting a child to necessary medical or therapeutic specialists, finding the most appropriate school, or advocating for educational supports.

Read more here.



Devereux Employee Guilty of Assaulting 14-Year-Old Resident

June 9th, 2022   No Comments   Abuse

As reported by MyChesCo, “a former employee at Devereux’s Brandywine Campus in Glenmoore was found guilty on Monday by a jury of simple assault and endangering the welfare of a child, announced Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan.”

Read more here.



Another Sexual Abuse Cover-up by an Institution — the Southern Baptist Convention

May 26th, 2022   No Comments   Sexual Abuse

As reported by the New York Times,  a nearly 300-page report on sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention has published online. Read more here.



HANDY & H.O.M.E.S INC. PARTNER WITH JUSTICE FOR KIDS® TO HOST AN INFORMATIVE TOWN HALL MEETING: “SOUNDING THE ALARM ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING” ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 11th

May 6th, 2022   No Comments   Human Trafficking

WHAT:                 HANDY (Helping Abused Neglected Disadvantaged Youth) & H.O.M.E.S. INC., and Justice for Kids®, a division of Kelley Kronenberg, proudly present “Sounding the Alarm on Human Trafficking,” a Broward County Town Hall Meeting taking place on Wednesday, May 11th.

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Florida’s Children First Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Twenty years ago, child advocates from across the state who were individually working on issues affecting Florida’s most vulnerable children came together with the idea that we could collectively make a greater impact. We ran the gamut in perspective — coming from private practice, businesses, law school clinics, and legal aid organizations —but we were united in our mission to achieve greater reform in the systems that affect children.

Our vision in founding Florida’s Children First was to use a broad range of advocacy strategies to improve the lives of children served by the state.  We believed that the effective implementation of public policy could lead to improve the lives and outcomes for children throughout our state. Twenty years later, I can say proudly that we have made great strides – but our work is far from over.

We worked hard to increase the number of children in state care who have their own attorneys, and to improve the quality of representation provided by all attorneys in the system. We’re also a leader in training all child welfare stakeholders on the laws that are intended to protect and benefit children. But we don’t just educate people about the law, we help make the law better for children.

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Stacie Schmerling featured on WESH 2 in Orlando

Justice for Kids Partner Stacie Schmerling was recently interviewed by WESH 2 News in Orlando regarding Florida’s Department of Children and Family Services enacting changes, including one major statewide change after Palm Bay’s police chief sounded the alarm on the state’s child welfare system.

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