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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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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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The Inextricable Link Between Child Welfare and Human Trafficking

February 23rd, 2022   No Comments   Human Trafficking

In February 2022, a married couple in New York City was accused of operating an extensive sex trafficking ring that involved over 6 young women and went on for many years. Most appalling is the fact that two of the sex trafficking victims were placed in the wife’s foster care. She was the one who was supposed to provide stability and safety for these children; now she and her husband—a registered sex offender from previous offenses (which the foster agencies failed to notice)—have now been indicted on multiple felony charges including sex trafficking and third-degree promoting of prostitution.

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Miami Herald: Florida seized a disabled mom’s 4-day-old son: ‘I didn’t think this could happen in America’

As reported by the Miami Herald, it was just two days after Alysha Princess Cesaire gave birth to her son when someone at Memorial Regional Hospital called the state’s child abuse hotline to express concerns that her physical disability — which causes her to use a walker and have difficulty speaking — rendered her an unfit mother.

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DCF Removes Four Children from Palm Beach County Couple After An Investigation Reveals They Physically Abused a 13-Year-old Adopted son.

February 11th, 2022   No Comments   Abuse

The Palm Beach County couple was arrested for child abuse by the police after discovery of the abusive, deplorable conditions the boy suffered in.

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Justin Grosz Appointed to Florida’s Children First Board of Directors

February 7th, 2022   No Comments   Advocacy

Florida’s Children First (FCF), a statewide advocacy organization focused on protecting the legal rights of at-risk and foster care children, is proud to announce the addition of Justin Grosz to its Board of Directors.

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