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Archive for May, 2013

Florida Legislature Appropriates $323,000 for Medically Fragile Foster Kids, Earns Thanks from Attorneys, Advocates

May 29th, 2013   No Comments   Advocacy, Foster Care, Funding

Advocates, guardians and attorneys for Florida’s at-risk youth are commending the Florida Legislature for approving more than $300,000 to provide legal counsel and representation to the state’s medically fragile foster children. Appropriation 744, as part of Senate Bill 1500, provides $323,000 in recurring general revenue funds for the Justice Administrative Commission to contract with attorneys selected by the Guardian ad Litem Program to represent dependent, foster children with disabilities in, or being considered for placement in, skilled nursing facilities.

UPDATE: The news was covered in a Daily Business Review story.

The need for such representation for medically fragile foster children with no parents or legal guardians has never been greater. In the past year, children in nursing homes and private residences have seen funding for vital nursing care cut. Without legal representation, it is likely these children will spend their childhood in nursing homes without any chance of living with a family, said Howard Talenfeld, president of Florida’s Children First, the state’s premier advocacy organization for foster children and at-risk youth.

“It’s been a crisis situation for children and their families, especially foster children, who have suffered significant cuts in the number of hours that skilled, private-duty nursing care is being provided,” he said. “We acknowledge the Florida Legislature for recognizing how important this money is. It represents an important step in securing attorneys who will represent these children and helping ensure they have a better chance of getting the medical care and families they desperately need.”


Florida Child Attorneys & Advocates Celebrate National Foster Care Month

May 14th, 2013   No Comments   Advocacy, Foster Care

May is National Foster Care Month. In Florida, foster children and their advocates, guardians, attorneys and foster families have more reasons to celebrate this annual event than ever before.

The Florida Legislature passed a “Normalcy” law that allows kids to live lives more like those of their non-foster peers. As fellow child advocate Gloria Fletcher wrote in Ocala.com, foster kids on school field trips, play dates and sleepovers required approval from case managers, at best, or at worst, fingerprints and background checks. “Some 19,000 kids in Florida foster care cannot live the life of a normal child and participate in normal childhood activities.” The new law changes that.

In another change, the Legislature extended the age that young adults “age out” of the foster care system from 18 to 21 years of age.

Amid it all, we must remember the work of dedicated foster families. Regardless of whether we step up and choose to be foster families ourselves, we should support those who do. Theirs is a vital role played in the lives of young, developing children.

As Florida and the nation celebrate National Foster Care Month, we have reason to celebrate indeed.

Florida Youth Shine: We Came, We Spoke, They Voted – Thank you to Florida’s Legislators

A note from Florida Youth Shine: Since 2010, Florida Youth Shine has been working with on bills that would ensure normalcy while in care and that would extend foster care to 21. As a part of our outreach, you all have come to the Capitol time after time to share your stories during meetings with legislators, for conversations with Senate staff, and to testify countless times before House and Senate committees.

This year, in partnership with the Guardian ad Litem program, your hard work paid off during the 2013 legislative session when “The Quality Parenting Act” and the “Nancy C. Detert Common Sense and Compassion Independent Living Act” were passed in both the House and Senate. Congratulations to all of our members of Florida Youth SHINE who have shared their story and their voice over the last 3 years. You did it!

A special FYS thank you goes out to Senator Detert for sponsoring both of these wonderful bills in the Senate and to the entire Senate for co-sponsoring SB 1036 on Independent Living. We also send a heartfelt thank you to Representative Albritton for sponsoring The Quality Parenting Act, Representative Perry for sponsoring HB 1315 on Independent Living, and to so many of our Representatives who signed on as co-sponsors to both of these bills.

These substantial changes became law because of you. We came together to identify these challenges, we spoke to our legislators and shared our stories, and they voted in favor of a stronger support system for each of you. Congratulations for being part of Florida’s history!

Read FYS’s entire newsletter here.

Sen. Nancy Detert Testifies Before U.S. Congress About Florida’s ‘Normalcy’ Law for Foster Kids

Florida Sen. Nancy Detert

Florida Senator Nancy Detert testified today before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Committee on Ways and Means about the new law in Florida to allow children in foster care to live more normal lives. Florida HB 215, is called the “normalcy” bill because it gives foster parents more power and less liability in approving normal activities for their foster kids. It was signed into law last month by Gov. Rick Scott.

Detert also testified about SB 1036. This bill will extend care for foster children until age 21 for those young adults who choose to remain in the system. The bill passed both chambers of the Legislature, and will be presented to Gov. Scott for signing. Read Detert’s full testimony here.

With only 5 minutes to speak, in part here’s what Detert said:


Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary and Legal Needs of Children Commission Among Honorees at Florida’s Children First Miami Event June 12

May 2nd, 2013   No Comments   Advocacy, News & Events

Florida’s Children First (FCF), the statewide advocacy organization focused on protecting the legal rights of at-risk and foster care children, will recognize and honor Miami-Dade child advocates at an awards reception and fundraising event. The event will be held Wednesday, June 12, 2013, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the law offices of Carlton Fields in Miami.

FCF Executive Director Christina Spudeas, along with FCF President and South Florida children’s rights attorney Howard Talenfeld, will lead the event, which is expected to draw child advocates, elected officials, judges and community and business leaders.

The Miami event will also serve as the official venue for FCF and the Law Offices of Public Defender Carlos J. Martinez to introduce the Crossover to Justice Project and EJW fellow Hasti Barahmand, Esq. Sponsored by The Florida Bar Foundation and Greenberg Traurig, the Crossover to Justice Project will assist crossover youth with legal representation in dependency matters as well as unmet civil legal needs with an emphasis on educational services. This project aims to empower and foster the voice of crossover youth, to create and sustain a working network of resources and advocates who provide support and accountability to crossover youth, and to promote a child’s access to counsel in dependency proceedings.