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Posts Tagged ‘Representation’

Florida Trend Story Highlights Foster Kids’ Need for Attorneys

ht-florida-trendIn a report issued this fall by the Children’s Advocacy Institute and First Star, Florida and six other states got an “F” for the legal representation and attorney services it provides to abused, neglected and foster children, notes a story in the December issue of Florida Trend.

“Very few of these children have lawyers, and yet their entire life is on the line,” says Howard Talenfeld, Chairman of the Florida Bar’s Legal Needs of Children Committee. Talenfeld is pushing for legislation to require that children in the state’s welfare system have an attorney. Read the Florida Child Advocate blog on Florida’s Failing Grade here.

The Florida Trend story helps highlight the plight of these children — and the Committee’s work on their behalf.

Florida Advocates’ Concern: Providing Lawyers to Children in Dependency Court

The Florida Bar’s Legal Needs of Children Committee searches for common ground on how best to provide lawyers for children in dependency court — while not harming the statewide Guardian ad Litem Program.

This article Jan Pudlow, senior editor with the Florida Bar News, reveals how the committee members, including leadership at the Department of Children and Families, the head of the GAL Program, judges, legal aid representatives, and private attorneys, unanimously passed a resolution of agreed-upon concepts to guide the way toward crafting proposed legislation they hope will become a Florida Bar lobbying position in the 2010 Florida Legislature.

“For it not to come together would be a shame,” Bar President Jesse Diner urged the committee at the Bar’s General Meeting in Tampa September 10. “If we all care about doing the right thing, then we can find a way to come together and make this work.”

Added Committee Chair and foster care and child welfare attorney Howard Talenfeld, “If we can achieve real consensus with the Family Law Section, then we have a real shot at getting the funding necessary to advance the issue of representation of children in the state of Florida.” Read entire article here…

Jesse Diner: ‘Seven Years & Counting’ for Foster Children & Attorney Representation

Florida is one of ten states that do not provide attorneys to children in foster care and the dependency system. They are the only party  in a dependency case who are not represented and thousands do not have Guardians ad Litem.


Florida Bar Pres. Jesse Diner

This year, Florida Bar President Jesse Diner is making the passage of legislation that would provide attorneys for foster children one of his top priorities. The commentary below appeared in The Florida Bar Journal…

Children are entitled to the same zealous advocacy adult clients expect of their lawyers. Yet, too often, children come to court powerless, with no one representing them at all. . . .

“If children are lucky enough to have lawyers, too often those lawyers are underpaid, inexperienced, and overwhelmed by huge caseloads. Judges are left to make life-altering decisions about a child without sufficient information to back up sound decisions.”

Those excerpts are plucked from the 2002 final report of The Florida Bar Commission on the Legal Needs of Children, a hardworking group of Florida judges and lawyers and experts on children’s issues chaired by 11th Circuit Judge Sandy Karlan. (more…)