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Archive for December, 2013

Child Advocate: Should Permanent Florida DCF Chief Come From Within the Agency?

As Florida Gov. Rick Scott mulls the naming of his next permanent secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, the post invariably will require someone up to the rigors and demands of the job. After all, dozens of children have died while under DCF watch. This leaves some to wonder whether the governor should look outside the agency – or first consider someone already there.

The post will be difficult to fill also because the term could be short, depending on outcome of the 2014 election.

Howard Talenfeld, a children’s rights lawyer and child advocacy attorney, and president of the watchdog group Florida’s Children First, admitted to a reporter recently that filling the post creates “a huge challenge” in “getting a quality secretary who would not have even a year to serve.”

Maybe the answer can be found within the agency, Talenfeld said. “”I would be hopeful that the department looks at some of the people who are there. There are some quality folks.”

Read the entire story and interview here.

Florida’s Vulnerable Children Need Your Support This Holiday Season – And All Year Long

December 23rd, 2013   No Comments   Uncategorized

Did you know some 19,000 children in the state of Florida won’t have a permanent and loving home this holiday season? Your financial support can help to protect these children. Help a foster youth have love and support this holiday season with Florida’s Children First.

Florida’s Children First is the state’s premier child advocacy organization. Donating just $10 today will help FCF protect the rights of not just one child, but all children in care – all year long.

Florida’s Children First receives no state or federal funding. We rely on the generous donations of people like you to continue advocating for the rights of children.

Donate Here


Increased Scrutiny Makes Gov. Scott’s DCF Appointment Critical for Future

By Howard Talenfeld

The post of Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families is one of the toughest jobs in Florida – and especially in Tallahassee. With the deaths of more than 20 foster children and at-risk kids under DCF watch, the result has been heightened scrutiny upon the agency. It also resulted in the resignation of embattled chief David Wilkins who was replaced by interim Secretary Esther Jacobo, who has taken some important first steps to fix the system by bringing in qualified child welfare experts to assess Florida’s failing system.

So, whomever Gov. Rick Scott names to replace Mr. Wilkins permanently must be ready for the challenge.

But more than battle-tested for the rigors and scrutiny of Tallahassee, the appointee has to be a child welfare professional who will prioritize protecting children over all others.

Never has the post of Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary been of a higher profile and importance than it is today. Cases of death, caretaker abuse, child-on-child sexual abuse, and children languishing in the system without permanent placement have now surfaced to the public spotlight while privatization of Florida child protection system system is still an experiment.


Florida Child Advocacy Attorneys Named ‘Most Effective Lawyers’; Pro Bono Win Helps Seriously Ill Child, Family

December 7th, 2013   No Comments   Advocacy, News & Events

Howard Talenfeld, a Fort Lauderdale child child abuse and child advocacy attorney and shareholder with Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky, Abate & Webb P.A., along with firm associate Nicole Coniglio, have been named the Daily Business Review’s Most Effective Lawyers in the Public Interest category.

The two child advocacy and Florida foster child attorneys were recognized specifically for their pro bono work representing a child and her family in an Agency for Health Care Administration hearing. The family was contesting AHCA’s denial of vital services for the child. As a result of their representation, the hearing officer determined AHCA was required to provide 24-hour, in-home care by skilled registered nurses, and not the part-time care by licensed practical nurses AHCA had been providing.

“We are honored to receive this honor, but more importantly to have helped this child and her family and many others in similar circumstances,” Talenfeld said. “Their story was like so many other children and families who struggle with trying to keep medically fragile children at home instead of placing them in nursing homes. Now, the child can remain at home and receive the care she needs from practitioners skilled in delivering that care.”