What is FCA?

Child Advocacy Blog


Archive for June, 2012

Lessons From Jerry Sandusky Child Sex Abuse

June 27th, 2012   No Comments   Abuse, Advocacy

From South Florida to across the nation, child advocates and foster child attorneys are taking some time to consider and address fall-out from the Jerry Sandusky guilty verdict. As the former assistant coach at Penn State University awaits sentencing on his conviction for 45 counts of child sexual abuse, the rest of us have our own lessons to learn. The simple lessons are to listen, act and change the way we view others.

Listen. When a child discusses or even hints at sexual abuse – or that something’s not right with someone in their lives, listen. Try to gently get details. Encourage open conversation.

Act. We must act on what we learn. Discuss the matter with the authorities or law enforcement.

And finally, place no one – or any organization – beyond reproach or suspicion. As with learned, Sandusky – a respected coach and founder of an organization for foster kids – abused his position and power to prey on innocent boys. Don’t be rash or quick to judge. Just be prepared to dig deeper.

As the Sun-Sentinel wrote, “Sexual abuse will still occur in our society, often being perpetrated by supposedly respected people like Jerry Sandusky. And there will often be powerful institutions — like Penn State — that will be more interested in protecting themselves than the victims of abuse.

“But since the Sandusky case became public last fall, and more and more tales of abuse became known, people have hopefully learned that having the courage to come forward — whether as a witness to possible abuse or as a victim — is crucial.”

Child Advocate Attorney: Jerry Sandusky and Silence in the Face of Monsters

June 25th, 2012   No Comments   Abuse, Advocacy, News & Events

By Gloria Fletcher, a Gainesville, Florida, child advocate attorney and criminal defense lawyer

The verdict is in: Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is guilty of 45 of 48 counts of felonies and misdemeanors stemming from his years of child sexual assault. Now in his 60s, and facing a sentence of some 400 or more years, it’s likely Sandusky will die in prison.

But what about the rest of us? What verdict should be found and sentence be imposed upon a society that habitually looks the other way when children – our most vulnerable citizens – are assaulted, abused, corrupted, endangered or otherwise neglected?

The victims – 10 in the indictment, but apparently more in reality – are left to spend the rest of their lives dealing with the sordid aftermath of the hell Sandusky wrought upon them. To be sure, some may find a sense of salvation, vindication – if not closure – with the verdict. But this remains their own life sentence.

It should be ours, too.


DCF: 30,000 More Child Abuse Calls to Come With New Law

Under the cloud of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case, attorneys, guardians and other child welfare advocates are watching a new law that has the Florida the Department of Children and Families preparing for the prospect of thousands of new calls reporting child abuse. In October, one of the toughest child abuse reporting laws in the nation will debut in the state.

“What we’re saying to the public is – if you suspect a child is being abused or neglected by anybody contact us,” DCF spokesman John Harrell told Action News Jacksonville.

As the news organization reported, Florida law currently requires mandatory reporting of child abuse by parent or a caregiver. The new “Protection of Vulnerable Persons” law will launch DCF involvement regardless who the suspected abuser is.

“Based on our research, with this new law we’re expecting about 30,000 more calls,” Harrell told the news organization. Currently, DCF receives about 40,000 calls a year.

Read the entire story here.

Florida DCF Pays in Case of Foster Parent’s Years-Long Abuse of Children in Her Care

For 10 years, agents with Florida’s Department of Children and Families placed children with foster mother Nellie Johnson, despite multiple reports that she abused kids in her care, writes DCF Save Our Children blog.

It was a costly practice. The abuse grew unabated, and in 2003, Johnson was convicted of child abuse and neglect. She was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

And the state paid. Late last year, DCF agreed to pay more than $14 million to the 20 children placed in Johnson’s home. Florida child advocacy attorney Howard Talenfeld represented the children.

The payouts will resolve a federal lawsuit filed against nine DCF case workers and investigators. It also disposes of a state case filed against DCF in Alachua Circuit Court.

Read more here.

Broward’s Heart Gallery Leads Family to Adopt Teen Brothers

June 12th, 2012   No Comments   Adoption, Advocacy

The photo exhibit called The Heart Gallery of Broward County showcases foster children searching for permanent homes. Created in 2008, the exhibit travels the county – from churches to hospital and malls – revealing the lives of foster kids.

For brothers Tyler and Kyle, one poignant photograph of the blue-eyed brothers brought them to their new family, the Miami Herald reported.

“Since becoming wards of the state’s welfare system five years ago, Tyler and Kyle have each lived in four foster homes. Twice they were separated,” the paper reported.

“’I saw things no kid should see,” 14-year-old Kyle said Monday, as he and Tyler, 16, became the 100th and 101st adoptions made possible by the Heart Gallery of Broward County. “Now I’m going to be with an actual family.”

Read the entire story here.