The readers’ forum

Foster children get an enhanced voice


It can be so easy to overlook Florida’s medically fragile foster children. They don’t have much of a voice. Few adults advocate on their behalf. They often wallow in silence, waiting for someone to listen.

Now, they will be heard.

This year, the Florida Legislature approved $323,000 to provide legal representation to these children. Appropriation 744, as part of Senate Bill 1500, provides recurring general-revenue funds for the Justice Administrative Commission to contract with attorneys selected by the Guardian ad Litem Program to represent dependent, foster children with disabilities in, or being considered for placement in, skilled nursing facilities. Attorneys and their experts, both covered by the appropriation, can help present the child’s or foster family’s case in administrative hearings and appeals.

It’s been a crisis situation for medically fragile foster children with no parents or legal guardians. In the past year, children in nursing homes and private residences have suffered cuts to funding for vital nursing care. Without representation, these children could spend their childhoods in nursing homes without any chance of living with a family.

The Florida Bar has supported the need for such legal representation for more than a decade. As former chair of the Bar’s Legal Needs of Children Committee, I, and committee members, helped draft proposed legislation that would allow attorneys to represent certain groups of foster children who are stuck in care. On June 12, Florida’s Children First will hold an event in Miami honoring the work of the Legal Needs of Children Commission, formed in 1999 by Florida Bar President Edith Osman.

Allowing children to live in the community with skilled nursing care often costs less than if they were institutionalized.

The message is clear. All they needed was a voice to help tell it. Thanks to the Florida Legislature, now they have one.

Howard M. Talenfeld, president, Florida’s Children First,

Fort Lauderdale

Read more Letters to the Editor stories from the Miami Herald

  • The readers’ forum

    Tax credit scholarships strengthen public education

    In a packed state legislative committee room recently, a parent who worked 12 straight hours and then drove two more to Tallahassee walked rapidly to the lectern without having filled out a speaker’s card. She was nearly breathless.

  • College degrees galore

    A college education is a great thing to have for everyone trying to move on to a higher-paying career. The only problem with this is that too many people graduate with a college degree each year. This makes a college degree worthless in today’s business world. Colleges like Miami Dade College and Florida International University pump out too many graduates each year who aren’t prepared for a tough job market.

  • One gigantic flush

    The April 17 article City to dump 38M gallons of water over urine episode, reports that Portland, Ore., officials will discard millions of gallons of treated water because a young person urinated into a city reservoir.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category