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Child Advocacy Blog


WPLG: Teacher accused of abusing special needs 4-year-old boy at Broward school

October 11th, 2023   No Comments   Abuse

A Broward County, FL teacher has been accused of abusing a special needs pre-kindergarten student. Read more from WPLG Local 10 here.

One of America’s Most Prolific Pedophiles Sexually Abused Hundreds of Children in the South Suburbs of Chicago

October 3rd, 2023   No Comments   Uncategorized

Serial pedophile Thomas Hacker sexually abused hundreds of children in Illinois and Indiana, abusing the trust of children and parents through his leadership roles in the Boy Scouts, Catholic churches, suburban Chicago Park District programs, and Chicago Public Schools (CPS).  From the 1960s through the 1980s, Hacker preyed upon boys as young as 10 and 11 years old.  While he was employed by CPS, Hacker was convicted for sexually abusing boys he mentored through scouting and church activities in Mount Prospect and Oak Lawn, Illinois; yet the convictions did not have any effect on his teaching career.  Moreover, CPS received reports of Hacker sexually abusing children while teaching, but no action was taken, allowing him full access to sexually abuse children.

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Trial of Former Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Employees Charged in Connection to Child’s Death will Continue Mid-October

A McHenry County State’s Attorney criminally charged two former Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) child protection specialists with endangering the life of a child and health of a minor.  Before 2019, when 5-year-old AJ Freund was found in a shallow grave, DCFS received at least 10 prior hotline calls concerning the care the child’s parents were giving.

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Jury Awards Father $4.5 Million in Damages in Wrongful Death Case Involving Broward Sheriff’s Office

August 18th, 2023   No Comments   Abuse, Court Cases, Negligence

Christopher Nevarez, the father of Makenzie Nevarez, a 6-month-old baby girl who suffered catastrophic injuries and later passed away from blunt force trauma, has been awarded $4.5 million in damages in a wrongful death case involving the Broward Sheriff’s Office for failure to protect his daughter.

Justin Grosz and Stacie Schmerling, partners with Justice for Kids at Kelley Kronenberg, represented Makenzie’s father and grandmother in the case, which alleged that the child protection investigator, under the auspices of BSO at the time, could have done more to further investigate previous injuries and keep Makenzie safe while in the care of her mother and her mother’s roommate.

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Sun-Sentinel: Family of baby killed in abuse case seeking $15 million from Broward Sheriff’s Office

August 15th, 2023   No Comments   Court Cases, Negligence

Jury deliberations are underway in this Justice for Kids case involving the death of 6-month-old Makenzie Nevarez. Her family is accusing the Broward Sheriff’s Office of negligence.

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Sun-Sentinel: A baby girl who was the subject of an abuse investigation was killed. Now, a trial begins that accuses child-welfare officials of negligence.

August 9th, 2023   No Comments   Court Cases, Negligence

Justice for Kids is in court this week regarding a lawsuit about 6-month-old baby Makenzie Nevarez, whose babysitter went to prison in her death. They have alleged that Broward Sheriff’s Office was negligent, arguing the child protection investigator, under the auspices of the agency at the time, could have done more to further the investigation and keep the baby safe.

Makenzie had previously been taken to hospitals in northwest Broward twice for unexplained injuries before BSO put her back into the care of the mother and her roommate who was often the babysitter. Tragically, she died more than a week later.

New Report Shows Florida Has Nation’s Highest Rate of Kids Visiting ERs For Preventable Dental Issues

July 21st, 2023   No Comments   Uncategorized

As reported by Florida Politics, a new report shows that most young children’s visits to emergency departments were related to a lack of preventive care, even when Medicaid covers the services.

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Jury Awards $485 Million in Damages in Foster Child Sexual Abuse Case

July 21st, 2023   No Comments   Sexual Abuse

A New Mexico jury has awarded $485 million in damages in a civil case involving a child sexually assaulted in foster care.

As reported by AP, the program allegedly placed the girl in the home of a foster parent despite knowing that he had been accused of sexual assault.

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Federal judge orders Florida child welfare and health administrators to stop placing medically fragile kids in nursing homes

U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks has ruled that Florida must find better placement options for medically fragile kids and neglected disabled children who are placed in nursing homes. According to an article in the Miami Herald, about 140 medically fragile children live in nursing homes, with another 1,800 at risk.

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Recent Updates to the Roles and Duties of Guardian ad Litems in Illinois

A guardian ad litem (GAL) is an important advocate for children who may be the victims of child abuse or child neglect.

With the passing of House Bill 1555, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (the statute currently governing the roles and duties) has been amended to prevent trial surprises and ensure transparency.   Among the changes are provisions requiring a written report not less than 30 days before final hearing or trial, allowing the GAL to propose an allocation order in addition to the report, and admission of the report into evidence without foundation.  The bill also grants GALs discretionary powers including presence in all proceedings, issuing subpoenas for records and filing pleadings.  Read more here.

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Bill Reforming Sentencing for Victims of Child Sex Trafficking by Considering Child’s Involvement in Welfare System

Illinois’ General Assembly recently passed legislation that aims to reform criminal sentencing for minors, particularly those who are victims of child sex trafficking.  House Bill 3414 adds to the factors that judges must consider when sentencing a child found guilty of a crime.  Judges will now be required to consider a child’s involvement in the child welfare system, whether they have a history of domestic abuse or child-on-child sexual abuse, and the results of any mental health evaluations the child has undergone.  Sadly, many of these children are victims of sexual abuse or they are neglected disabled children.

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State Senator’s Legislation Reinforcing DCFS’ Permanency Goals to Protect Child Welfare Passes the Senate

Recently introduced House Bill 3705 amends the Illinois’ Children and Family Services Act to reinforce the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services’ (DCFS) duty to children in foster care as well as its responsibility for placing youth in permanent family homes through guardianship or adoption (as opposed to adoptive homes) when restoration to the biological family is not safe, possible or otherwise appropriate. Proper placements are crucial in preventing foster child abuse, child sexual abuse, and child neglect.

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