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Archive for October, 2010

Florida’s Children First Fetes Foster Child Advocates

October 28th, 2010   No Comments   Advocacy, News & Events

Area foster child and children’s welfare advocates, lawyers and media personalities were praised at a recent West Palm Beach awards event for Florida’s Children First.

Howard presents an FCF award to Todd McPharlin in honor of his sister, Tracey.

Howard Talenfeld presents an FCF award to Todd McPharlin in honor of his sister, Tracey.

South Florida attorney Todd McPharlin accepted the FCF President’s Award on behalf of his sister, Tracey K. McPharlin, a long-time advocate and partner at the law firm, Colodny Fass Talenfeld Karlinsky & Abate P.A. Ms. McPharlin has been ill and was unable to attend.

“Tracey is an unsung hero who has made a difference in the lives of thousands of foster children,” said Howard Talenfeld, a partner at the firm and founder of Florida’s Children First.

Ms. McPharlin joined the firm in 2000 as an associate specializing in civil rights litigation, class action litigation, appellate proceedings, and many of the foster care cases for which the firm has gained prominence.  She was named Partner in 2006.

Scott Hawkins, President Elect of the Florida Bar, presented the Florida Bar Hugh Glickstein Award to Tracey for her work.

Also receiving an award was local West Palm Beach television news anchor Jim Sackett. The NewsChannel 5 anchor received the Florida’s Children First Media Advocacy Award for his reporting and coverage of children’s issues. Sackett has hosted the station’s Thursday’s Child segment for more than 30 years. Read the story here.

News 5's Jim Sackett receives FCF Media Advocacy Award.

News 5's Jim Sackett receives FCF Media Advocacy Award.

Among others who were honored:  The Cannon family, who adopted two foster children; D’Arta Franklin, a former foster child who now advocates on behalf of foster children; and Emmanuel “Manny” Oliver, who serves as a voice for those still in foster care.

Florida’s Children First is a statewide advocacy organization that serves the state’s vulnerable children in the foster and child welfare system.

joined Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate, P.A. in 2000 as an associate specializing in civil rights litigation, class action litigation, appellate proceedings and many of the foster care cases for which the Firm has gained prominence. She was named partner in 2006.

Scott Hawkins, President Elect of Florida Bar, presented the Florida Bar Hugh Glickstein Award to Tracey.

Also receiving awards were West Palm Beach television news anchor, Jim Sackett, who received the FCF Media Advocacy Award, for his work covering children’s issues.

Opinion: 33 Years Later, Florida Gets It Right On Gay Adoption

October 20th, 2010   No Comments   Adoption

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editors wrote an opinion column on gay adoption of foster children and other children in need of a permanent home. It’s a compelling tale — hopefully one that eulogizes the end of Florida’s 33-year ban on gay adoption.

It would have been a fitting funeral for Florida’s archaic, bigoted gay adoption law if it had gone all the way to the state Supreme Court before finally being shot down.

That didn’t happen, but the next best thing did — the Florida Department of Children & Families is at last giving up the ludicrous, wasteful and self-defeating fight.

Floridians should demand to know how much time and money was wasted by the state of Florida in an attempt to retain the backward distinction of having the most stringent gay adoption ban in the country. For 33 years — during which countless kids were denied a good, loving home because of bigotry and misplaced moral fervor — Florida law said gays and lesbians could not be adoptive parents.  Read the entire column here.

Federal Lawsuit: Youth Offender Sexually Abused in Florida Facility

October 9th, 2010   No Comments   Abuse

The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has 60 days to investigate a youthful offender facility after a federal class-action lawsuit was filed by attorneys with the Southern Poverty Law Center this week alleging that a 15-year-old boy at the Thompson Academy was sexually abused. Foster and child advocates and lawyers are expected to closely watch the case and the damages it claims.

The suit claims an employee assaulted the boy, while also alleging juvenile residents endured hunger, moldy and hot conditions.

According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit, filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, claims the sexually abused 15-year-old boy reported the abuse to the facility’s administrator. Nothing was done, the suit alleges.

“The attorneys who filed the lawsuit said the teen tried to kill himself three times by drinking bleach and attempting to hang himself. The boy – who is not being identified because The Associated Press does not name people who may be victims of sexual assault – was released to his mother’s care on Friday,” the story notes.

It goes on to say, “Jesse Williams, senior vice president at Youth Services International, said the lawsuit’s claims were unsubstantiated. The Florida Department of Children and Families has up to 60 days to complete an investigation of the facility’s procedures, spokesman Mark Riordan said.”

Read the entire story here.

New York Child Welfare Agency Misses Signs, Visits Before Girl, 4, Dies

October 6th, 2010   No Comments   Abuse

This article serves as another example of how New York welfare agency workers failed numerous times and over many months to make critical visits to ensure a child was well cared for and not being abused. Now Marchella Pierce, 4, and who weighed 18 pounds, is dead.

The New York Times is reporting that the Brooklyn girl appears to have gone months without a visit from child welfare workers assigned to monitor her well-being, despite indications that she could be at risk.

The revelation, from New York’s Administration for Children’s Services, came with a graphic glimpse into her final months. Agency officials called her home care “grossly inadequate,” said she was beaten regularly, and was tied to her bed “for substantial periods of time.”

The mother, Carlotta Brett-Pierce, faces charges that include second-degree assault.

“Clearly, Marchella Pierce was a vulnerable child, and as a city we needed to do more to help her,” John B. Mattingly, the commissioner of children’s services, told council members during more than two hours of questions and testimony. Read the entire story here.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: How To Handle Threats

October 2nd, 2010   No Comments   Abuse, Advocacy, News & Events

Domestic violence is all around us. From fearsome threats of violence or bodily harm, to terrible tragedies — like the spousal and child murders in Riviera Beach, Florida, earlier this week — advocates and attorneys who work in family law, foster care and other areas hope to raise awareness of these issues. In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Florida Child Advocate offers this guest post from Barry Finkel, an experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer.

Attorneys who have worked in family law, divorce or domestic abuse issues know that “domestic violence” isn’t necessarily limited to actual battery – or hitting, kicking, striking or even sexually assaulting a spouse or partner.

It can include the threat of violence. Experience has shown that threats often lead to more threats — and actual violence.

If your spouse, partner or boyfriend has committed a first act or threatened an act, act quickly to protect yourself and your children. Start by… (more…)

Child Advocates Celebrate Funding Program for Adopting Disabled Florida Foster Kids

October 1st, 2010   No Comments   Adoption, Foster Care

The news is good for disabled foster children hoping to find permanent homes through adoption. Advocates applaud a new Florida program that could enable adoption of hundreds of disabled kids.

A new program from the Florida Department of Children & Families and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities will earmark financial resources for care and services for foster kids with special needs. The hope is this will help encourage adoptive parents who might not be able to adopt and raise the children otherwise.

It’s a big issue. Some 638 Florida foster children had developmental disabilities, including cerebral palsy, mental retardation, autism and other issues. . Some 224 of the kids are on a waiting list for services.

To learn more, read a recent Miami Herald story on the issue.