What is FCA?

Child Advocacy Blog


Archive for August, 2009

Florida $4 Million Damages Paid to Former Foster Children a Step Toward Fixing the System

August 24th, 2009   No Comments   Abuse, Damage Claims, Foster Care

When the Associated Press reported that the state of Florida will pay more than $3 million to two foster children for not preventing them from abuse and starvation in their Hernando County home, Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon termed the case “horrific.”

John Joseph Edwards Jr., 19, and his half-sister, 15, received $700,000 and  $3.275 million, respectively. Their foster parents, Lori and Arthur “Tommy” Allain, received 25 years in prison for child abuse and neglect in 2006. Not only were the kids put in a dangerous home, a DCF panel that investigated said countless child welfare workers missed or ignored signs of abuse and found they allowed it to escalate.

Putting foster kids in dangerous homes, with little follow-up, and then paying settlements when things go horribly wrong has become an expensive reality — one that Sheldon is trying to correct. (more…)

Florida Governor, Legislature Must Curtail Use of ‘Chemical Restraints’ on Foster Children

“It seems to be a prerequisite for foster children to be on medication.”

These words were spoken by the adoptive father of two 12-year Florida girls. And the reality he spoke of just shouldn’t be the case.

As Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was barnstorming the state discussing Florida’s successes in fostering adoptions, Mirko Ceska was telling the governor about the continued prevalence of psychotropic drugs in the lives of foster kids and others in the state’s care. Read the Miami Herald article here.

Powerful psychotropic should not be used as “chemical restraints” for minor foster children. But such use is widespread instead of behavioral approaches designed to address the real losses in their lives. (more…)

Florida DCF Making Strides In Foster Care Issues

The Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF) has made strides of late, both in recognizing the need for — and furthering its protections of — children in the state’s foster care program.

But it has much to do and still farther to go. In a story, DCF Report Rips Way Kids Get Meds by the Fort Myers News-Press, Stan Appelbaum, chairman of the Local Advocacy Council for mental health, said “I’m not a happy camper with the way medications are being used. The first thing that I’d take away from this review is that it’s not a perfect system.” The article also called medicating children in state care an “unregulated, haphazard process in which drugs are prescribed to help caregivers calm difficult children instead of treating them,” according to an initial state review.

As the Miami Herald recently reported: A panel found that “Florida’s mental health system for foster kids relies far too often on drugs, with little oversight, according to a draft report on the suicide of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers.” Read the full article here. (more…)

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…)