What is FCA?

Child Advocacy Blog


Archive for the ‘Adoption’ Category

Gainesville Sun: Children flee adoptive parents, describe home of horrors

June 21st, 2019   No Comments   Abuse, Adoption

As reported by the Gainesville Sun, ” two Gainesville children — ages 8 and 10 — who fled to safety last week say they were repeatedly hit, fed only bread and water along with table scraps, ‘drowned’ in a bathtub, and burned or shocked by their adoptive parents.” Read more by clicking here.

Welcome to Florida Child Advocate

February 4th, 2018   No Comments   Abuse, Adoption, Advocacy

(Scroll Beyond This Introduction to Read the Latest Blog Post)

Thousands of foster children, former foster children, developmentally disabled and medically needy children are part of the Florida child care system. If you’re currently or formerly a child in – or an advocate for or parent of a child in the foster care system, Florida Child Advocate is here to help.

Every year, thousands of foster children, medically needy children, or those physically abused, sexually abused, the victims of personal injury,  legal damages, and pain and suffering are left to seek solutions on their own. No child should go through this on his or her own. And for the almost 500 who have died while under state watch, they deserved better.

This site was created by the law firm of Talenfeld Law, which was founded by nationally known Florida child advocate Howard Talenfeld, the preeminent children’s rights attorneys focusing exclusively on protecting the rights of physically and sexually abused children, developmentally disabled children and other at-risk children. Florida Child Advocate is dedicated to protecting children and addressing key issues facing those with foster care, physical abuse, child sexual abuse, social services, dependency, disability or personal injury and damages claims or lawsuits against the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), lead agencies, community based care providers, and other child welfare providers.

We believe that children belong with their own families. However, we also believe that when protective investigations by the Florida DCF and its agencies reveal that children are at high risk of neglect, child sex abuse or physical abuse by their parents, they must be placed with suitable relatives when they are available, and if not, some children must be placed in foster care. Critically, if children are going to be taken into foster care, they should be protected by the Florida Department of Children & Families and their community partners from the risk of physical and sexual abuse and returned home or placed in loving and nurturing adoptive families as quickly as possible. Topics also include the rights of foster Children to be safe from harm in care, their right to medical, psychological care, and disability benefits, their educational rights, and their rights on the road to independence.


Florida Foster Child Abuse Lawyer Howard Talenfeld Receives UM Law Alumni Achievement Award

More than 150 local attorneys and officials were in attendance this week to celebrate the awarding of the University of Miami Law Alumni Association’s Alumni Achievement Award to Howard M. Talenfeld. A leading Florida foster care abuse attorney and life-long advocate for children’s rights, Talenfeld was recognized for his tireless efforts on behalf of society’s most vulnerable citizens.

The award was presented by Fort Lauderdale attorney and 2015 award recipient Bruce Lyons, Miami attorney and president of the Law Alumni Association Edward R. Shohat, and University of Miami School of Law Dean Patricia D. White.

“Howard was a natural for this award. We’re very proud of his pioneering work for children’s causes,” said Shohat. “The association represents over 30,000 alumni around the world, and Howard is an excellent ambassador for the school.”


Success Stories of Florida Youth Shine’s Former Foster Children

February 19th, 2016   No Comments   Adoption, Advocacy, Florida Youth Shine

In its 10 years serving Florida’s at-risk foster children, Florida Youth Shine has helped thousands of current and former foster children find their way – and serve as examples for other kids going through the state child welfare system. One such success story is Janice Goldsberry.

Janice with FYSNow 22 years old, Janice was in foster care for 11 years, from the age of 7 until she “aged out” at 18. She was often separated from her two siblings, had been in 15 homes that she can recall, 11 middle and high schools, and was the victim of the emotional trauma common to foster children.

Though her feelings of emotional neglect and depression continue, Janice still is a success story.


Peers Mourn Loss of Florida’s Leading Child Advocate, Foster Child Abuse Attorney

February 27th, 2015   No Comments   Adoption, Commentary

gloria_fletcherAs an attorney, Gloria W. Fletcher was the staunchest advocate for her clients. As a champion for the children, she was one of Florida’s great child advocates. Though a formidable, tenacious criminal defense attorney for her clients, including many law enforcement personnel, Gloria arguably had her greatest impact on the lives of children. From the streets of Gainesville, to the federal and state courts of Florida, to the halls of the Florida Legislature and even the governor’s office, she was a force to be reckoned with when arguing on behalf of the state’s neediest children. That was where many knew her best. With her passing this week, that’s where many will miss her most.

Gloria for years served as Vice President and an active board member of Florida’s Children First, a statewide child advocacy organization, where she pressed for foster children to have attorneys. With her relationships in the capital and her unwillingness to take “No” for an answer, she pursued key legislation from sponsors through committees straight to the governor’s desk.


Keep Florida’s Children First in Mind When Planning Your 2015 Giving

December 30th, 2014   No Comments   Adoption, Advocacy

If making life better for Florida’s abused, abandoned and neglected children is not already on your charitable priority list, consider Florida’s Children First. Thanks to the unwavering support of child advocates and supporters statewide, we’ve been able to help some of the 20,000 children in foster care who depend Florida’s Children First to make improvements in the system of care that make their lives better.

You can read here about our most recent accomplishments. But we need your help to continue our good work. Your donation to Florida’s Children First helps children who have been abused or neglected or abandoned, and your money is used wisely. Instead of asking you for a donation today, we are asking that you plan for the future and put Florida’s Children First in your 2015 Charitable Giving Budget.

There are three things that set us apart from the rest:

1. Our work is informed by the voice of the youth – listening to and promoting our youth advocacy organization, Florida Youth SHINE (current and former foster youth).


Broward Child Advocacy Awards & Reception to Held on Thursday, February 27

February 20th, 2014   No Comments   Adoption

Florida’s Children First, the state’s premier child advocacy organization, will hold its 2014 Broward Child Advocacy Awards & Reception on Thursday, February 27 at 5:30pm at the 110 Tower in Fort Lauderdale (110 SE 6th Street, Fort Lauderdale 33301).

The event will honor:

– Children’s Services Council of Broward County as the Children’s Advocate of the Year

– Taevon Pierre & Aaron Dames as the Youth Honorees of the Year and

– Forever Family Bella’s Group as the Youth Inspiration Award

Master of Ceremonies will be Todd Templin, former WPLG reporter and current Vice President with Boardroom Communications.

Sponsors include Boardroom Communications; Colodny Fass Talenfeld Karlinsky Abate & Webb; Guardian Trust: Coral Gables Trust; Lifestyle Media Group; Daily Business Review; and Paul Palank Memorial Foundation.

For more information, contact: Debby Beck (fcf@floridaschildrenfirst.org or 954-796-0860).

Former Foster Children From Florida Youth Shine Speak Out at Statewide Events

What can you learn from a child or young adult? Listen and you’ll see. Members of Florida Youth Shine, who are current and former foster children, spent their summer speaking to child advocates throughout Florida, and working in the nation’s capital. They shared information about independent living legislation and other issues affecting foster kids.

The “Voice of the Youth” series took the young adults across the state to share their stories.

They spoke at trainings sessions, statewide committee meetings, and to the media that covers child advocacy issues.

In the past weeks, 22 Florida Youth Shine members actively participated in two workshops at The Department of Children and Families Child Dependency Summit in Orlando. There to learn, advocate and learn about leadership building, they also presented at workshops and served on panel discussions.

Among the events in which Florida Youth Shine members participated were:


As Another Child is Injured, Department of Children and Families Scrutiny Intensifies

The Florida Department of Children and Families finds itself under increasing scrutiny as yet another child suffers serious abuse and apparent personal injury while under its watch. Child advocates and attorneys fear for the child’s future – and that of others like him.

The Sunshine State News Service asked in an article whether a Florida DCF transformation of its old system “cut too many corners”  It’s a valid and timely question.

The child most recently injured was first admitted to the hospital with a broken leg his mother claimed resulted from a fall. Workers tasked with overseeing children did not act to investigate the claims. A later cracked rib went uninvestigated. The child was nearly killed in the third incident that severed his liver.

At least one judge has had enough.


Florida Foster Child News Update: Mistreated Disabled Adoptees Get $9.7 Million in NYC Settlement

December 11th, 2012   No Comments   Abuse, Adoption, Court Cases

The Daily Business Review in Miami / South Florida reports on the 10 severely disabled adults, including four who are homeless, who will get help under a $9.7 million settlement with New York City for abuse they suffered as children or young adults in an adoption scam perpetrated by Judith Leekin.

Two South Florida law firms – one whose partner is Howard Talenfeld, considered among the top child abuse, personal injury, damage claims and wrongful death attorneys focused on foster child and at-risk populations – negotiated the settlement.

The lawsuit filed in New York federal court in 2009 in collaboration with Children’s Rights Inc., a New York-based nonprofit law firm.

“The partial settlement could not have come at a better time because four of these young adults are homeless and need the settlement immediately just to survive,” said Talenfeld, with Fort Lauderdale firm Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky, Abate & Webb said. “We’ve come too close to losing one or two former Leekin children, and we had to act.”

The other attorney, Ted Babbitt of Babbitt, Johnson, Osbourne & Le Clainche in West Palm Beach, said $3 million each would go to two adoptees placed with foster mother Judith Leekin through a city-run adoption office. The city’s liability was higher in those cases because of its direct involvement.

Read the entire story here.

Florida Foster Child Advocate Attorney: State Agency Plan to Add 1,200 Foster Parents Could Harm Kids

Although the Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary’s initiative to recruit 1,200 more foster parents is admirable, the plan to eliminate the rules could prove disastrous for some children. In repealing these rrules, Florida needs to remember the death of children like Nubia Barahona and Latiana Hamilton where foster and adoptive parents were directly responsible for the deaths of these children. The negligence of DCF and employees of private agencies were directly responsible for the deaths of these foster children.

According to a story in the Tallahassee Demograt, “On Thursday, Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins announced an initiative to help families care for kids temporarily taken from their families. The initiative, Fostering Florida’s Future, is a marketing campaign to recruit 1,200 new foster families and promote less-restrictive parenting rules that did little to protect children and much to discourage participation by foster parents.”

Florida had some 4,317 foster families in Florida in June, a 14 percent decline from the year before, the paper reported. “The department recruited 1,000 families last year, but more left for a variety of reasons. Some adopted the kids they fostered. Others chose not to continue as foster parents as they aged, Wilkins said.”

Read more…

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.