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Howard Talenfeld, Talenfeld Law, Plantation, Florida. Howard Talenfeld, Talenfeld Law, Plantation, Florida.

Florida has the opportunity to become an exemplar to the nation by amending its Constitution with Proposal 40, filed by Commissioner Belinda Keiser. This proposal will give children who were removed ‎from their parents because of abuse and neglect the right to counsel. Providing all children with attorneys in addition to their volunteer Guardians ad Litem is the national best practice and our kids deserve the best. It’s also cost effective.

Last night 24,000 children in Florida didn’t sleep in their own bed because the state removed them from their parents due to allegations of abuse or neglect. Today, 24,000 children in Florida are involved in dependency court proceedings. Every day, those courts make decisions that affect the things most important to children—how long they will be in foster care and be deprived of their liberty, where they will live and who is their caretaker, and whether they will ever go back to family and friends or be adopted. Court is also the place to protect children’s rights to education, health care, mental health care, sibling visitation, and their property rights. In those legal proceedings, the person with the most at stake is the only one‎ who does not have the right to a lawyer.

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