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Archive for May, 2015

Florida Child Advocates Offer Summer Safety Tips

As the school year comes to a close, families throughout the state will be seeking programs to ensure their children are safe while the parents work. With many kids each year becoming the victims of child abuse by caregivers, sitters and employees of summer camps, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) is warning families to take precautions. Below are tips and reminders to help parents keep their children safe during the summer season.

The campaign explores three common areas: choosing a summer camp, finding a caregiver, and ensuring your child is safe around water.


Florida’s Child Advocates See End to Needless Foster Child Deaths

May 21st, 2015   No Comments   Advocacy

To any advocate or attorney who works to protect abused children, neglected kids or others at harm, when a foster child or any youngster dies under the care of his family or the watch of a state agency or organization tasked with his or her care, that epitomizes a “needless” child death. Three organizations have banded together to highlight the worst examples of preventable child deaths – shaken baby syndrome, co-sleeping and drowning.

“These are very tragic situations that are preventable,” said one child services administrator behind the new Tampa Bay area campaign to address preventing the three most common ways kids under 5 are dying in large numbers. Learn more at www.preventneedlessdeaths.com.

“It’s a great time to launch this campaign to get the attention of parents as we approach the summer months, the vacation time. Families are going to be vacationing in hotels at their favorite vacation spot and there’s going to be bodies of water there and children need to be watched closely.”

Learn even more by clicking here.

The campaign is a collaboration between the Department of Children and Families, the Children’s Board, Eckerd Community Alternatives and the Juvenile Welfare Board. We all can learn from the initiative.

New Times: Boy Sues Community Firms, State Agency for Failing to Vet Foster Parent

For want of a criminal and personal background check, a young child was allegedly sexually abused by a foster parent after being placed in the man’s care by contracted providers, welfare providers Kids in Distress Inc. and ChildNet Inc. The two companies were hired by the Florida Department of Children and Families to vet foster parents and place children. Instead, all three – as well as the foster parent, whom the child claims sexually abused him.

“According to the lawsuit, the child — identified only as R.S. — claims 56-year-old John Michael McGuigan of Broward County sexually abused him while the child was under his care. But the lawsuit says there were multiple glaring red flags the agencies failed to see when McGuigan applied to become a Florida foster parent in 2008,” writes Broward New Times.


WFOR-TV News: ‘Broward County Florida Foster Child is Suing the Agency That Was Supposed to Protect Him’

May 8th, 2015   No Comments   Abuse, Court Cases

Florida foster child abuse attorney Howard Talenfeld holds a press conference after filing a lawsuit on behalf of a foster child who claims he was groomed and sexually abused by an alleged known child molester-turned-foster parent. The lawsuit was filed against the alleged abuser and child welfare providers Kids In Distress, Inc., and ChildNet, Inc., in Broward County, Florida, circuit court.

The suit alleges the private child welfare agencies failed to appropriately conduct standard background checks before granting the defendant a foster parent license.

In the lawsuit, the child, R.S., claims he was subjected to sexual abuse by defendant Michael McGuigan, allegedly a known child molester. Other defendants Kids In Distress and ChildNet are private companies contracted by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) to implement and oversee child safety, welfare and foster placement services. The case was filed in Broward County Circuit Court on behalf of R.S. by his next friend, David Bazerman.

“Child advocate and attorney Howard Talenfeld says Kids In Distress failed to protect a foster child that he says was molested,” the reporter comments. “In a lawsuit filed against the agencies which are contracted to provide child welfare services in Broward County, he says the foster parents had been investigated by police agencies for abuse but whenever charged.”

Serious Red Flags Missed in Death of Hollywood Boy: Florida Child Abuse Lawyer

South Florida child abuse attorney and child sexual abuse lawyer Howard Talenfeld was interviewed this week on CBS News regarding the case of 3-year-old Ahziya Osceola. The Seminole Indian boy was discovered abused and dead in his Hollywood home after his family had reported him missing. Now, charges have been filed against his father and stepmother – and questions have been raised about how child protective service providers CHildNet, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Children and Families failed to communicate with one another to ensure Ahziya was safe.

As was made clear in the reporting and Talenfeld’s interview, Ahziya’s case was well known by various organizations. But the sharing of information critical to ensuring his safety was “inconsistent and insufficient.”