What is FCA?

Child Advocacy Blog


Archive for November, 2010

Advocate Attorney: Sexual Abuse a ‘Shocking Truth’ for Developmentally Disabled in Group Homes & Residential Facilities

November 23rd, 2010   No Comments   Sexual Abuse

Sexual assaults among the developmentally disabled population are shocking and growing. For caregivers and advocates, the reality is clear: Group homes and other residential facilities must provide safeguards or they could face damage suits, awards and judgments by lawyers and attorneys for the abused and their families.

According to a recent news report, a horrifying epidemic is growing by the day: the sexual assault of people with mental disabilities. According to The Arc of Pennsylvania, the largest advocacy organization in the United States for citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities, 85 percent of people with a mental disabilities are victims of sexual abuse. In a candid video interview below, the relative of a child raped over more than a decade shared her thoughts on sexual abuse. View the original report here.


Human Trafficking Can Affect Anyone — The Vulnerable, Young, Immigrants, and Society At Large

November 23rd, 2010   No Comments   Abuse, News & Events

Human trafficking — whether of immigrants or U.S. citizens caught in a rough stage of life — affects everyone. For child advocates, care givers and attorneys who deal with society’s most vulnerable citizens, the results are devastating, and demand greater protections. According to a story in the Fort Myers (Florida) News-Press, human trafficking historically has been perceived as crimes affecting mostly foreigners. Today, its victim profile has expanded. It includes “a larger extent American adults and children exploited for gain.”

In Lee County (Florida) alone, the paper writes, “the number of people tagged as victims and investigations…has been growing in the past year. Of 11 arrests linked to trafficking in Lee in roughly that time, the lead investigator said at least seven involved domestic victims.”

The paper continued, “…Trafficking, often called modern-day slavery, doesn’t have to involve transportation of a victim. One case involved a 15-year-old girl who told investigators her mother forced her to prostitute in exchange for food. At one point, she banged on a window seeking her mother’s help when she was left in a room with men, according to sheriff’s reports. The girl cut and burned herself to deal with the pain.” Read the entire story here.

Community-Based Care Group – and New Model – Win Orlando Contract

November 20th, 2010   No Comments   News & Events

Community-based care — not “entitlements” or history — led Orlando area Department of Children and Families (DCF) administrators to give a four-year, $200 million child welfare services contract for Orange and Osceola Counties to Community Based Care of Seminole. Some believe this is the model for the future.

Meanwhile, according to Seminole Voice, Family Services of Metro Orlando is dismayed by the decision. “It’s the first time a lead agency like us… has been replaced for something other than performance issues,” Bart Mawoussi, director of communications and grants, told the Voice. “And we kind of saw that as a puzzling decision.”

But DCF officials say the better-suited agency prevailed. “Community based care is a legislative design, and competition was expected,” DCF CEO John Cooper said. “This is not an entitlement.”

The is a critical decision, as thousands of children, families, foster parents and social workers will be affected by the decision. According to DCF, the two-county area has among the highest child-abuse rates in the nation. Read the entire story here.

Advocates, Florida DCF Say Cribs Provide Safe Sleep for Infants

November 17th, 2010   No Comments   News & Events

Infants and toddlers in Florida are dying at an alarming rate — of causes that often are completely avoidable. Whether they’re accidentally smothered while sleeping with their parents or from sleeping outside the safe confines of a crib, their numbers are startling. They’ve drawn the attention of the Florida Department of Children and Families, caregivers, advocates and others.

At least 11 times in the past year, babies have died when something went wrong with a makeshift sleeping arrangement, according to a story in the Palm Beach Post. DCF officials believe they’ve improved the odds by providing cribs through a partnership with the West Palm Beach-based Clinics Can Help

The only catch: To get the crib, the parent must agree to attend an hourlong class on parenting, the Post reported. DCF regional director Perry Borman said the Cribs R for Infant Baby Safety project (CRIBS) can save lives. “When it happens you think, ‘This could’ve been prevented,’?” DCF spokeswoman Elisa Cramer told the Post.  A recent Florida Child Abuse Death Review report noted how unsafe sleeping arrangements are the leading cause of death in Florida children younger than 12 months in 2008 and the second-leading cause of all verified child abuse and neglect deaths. Read the entire story here.

Florida Adoption of Foster Children a ‘Chance at Redemption’

November 12th, 2010   No Comments   Adoption, Advocacy

For foster children and hopeful parents, adoption is redemption and a chance at a new life for children – and adoptive parents. At a recent Miami event as part of Carla’s National Adoption Day, 50 children were given new, permanent homes.

For the children, the adoption was among 50 that took place at the Miami Children’s Museum as part of Carla’s National Adoption Day. The event was renamed in memory of Miami child advocate Carla Merhige, who was killed last year by her mentally ill brother, according to the Miami Herald. The national event is intended to raise awareness of the 129,000 children in foster care nationwide awaiting permanent homes.

“Adoption is not just about taking care of a child until they turn 18. Adoption is forever,” said DCF Secretary George Sheldon to the families before their adoptions were finalized. Read the entire story here.

Child Advocates Remember Florida Child Rights Attorney & ‘Unsung Hero’ Tracey K. McPharlin

November 8th, 2010   No Comments   Advocacy, News & Events

Dedicated child advocate and foster care rights attorney Tracey K. McPharlin, 44, passed away November 6 after a courageous battle with cancer. She was the advocates’ advocate.

Tracey K. McPharlin

Tracey K. McPharlin

Born in Miami in 1966 and raised in Plantation, Tracey graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High School, attended Nova Southeastern University and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law School.

Soon after joining Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate, P.A. in 2000, Tracey made her name and career advocating for the rights of children in the foster care system. She cared deeply for those fellow Florida residents who were most vulnerable or at risk.

Although she recovered scores of multi-million dollar damages awards on behalf of injured foster children, her work in H.A.L. v. Foltz 551 F.3d 1227 (C.A. 11 Fla. 2008) resulted in the landmark Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision which recognized that exposing foster children to child-on-child sexual abuse in foster care is a viable claim under the Federal Civil Rights act 42 USC § 1983. This case paved the way to protect many other children in Florida and throughout the country who are sexually abused in foster care.