child welfare, law, and lots of graphs

child welfare, law, and lots of graphs

Category: News & Notes

News & Notes

Why we need many voices in the law

Let’s take a moment:

And race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, “No, where are you really from?”, regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country. Race matters to a young person addressed by a stranger in a foreign language, which he does not understand because only English was spoken at home. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: “I do not belong here.”

 Read Sotomayor’s dissent in full (PDF).

I am forever grateful that she is on the bench.

Case Law UpdatesNews & Notes

Florida judge says schools probably have the right to decide which students have to suffer violence quietly

In Lake County, Florida, a young girl at Carver Middle School wanted to start a Gay-Straight Alliance in order to combat bullying and other abuses she saw at her school. The administration refused her request, stating that the group was not related to the curriculum despite the fact that other groups were approved that were unrelated to the curriculum. The young girl, through her parents, brought a law suit against the school board.

The matter was pending on a motion for preliminary injunction from the girl and a motion to dismiss from the school. Judge Hodges, Middle District of Florida, denied both, finding that the girl does not have a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits mostly because HOMOSEXUALS IN MIDDLE SCHOOL, but that the girl does state a claim because he can’t ignore that a ton of other courts have ruled in favor of youths seeking to start GSAs.

The core of the opinion shows what the judge clearly does not understand:

Turning, then, to the reasonableness of the School Board’s action, it must surely be beyond question at this moment in the nation’s history that the subject of sexual orientation and the legal status of those in the LGBT Community is at the forefront of public debate, particularly with regard to same sex marriages. Moreover, it is a very controversial issue. Indeed, and sadly, it is common knowledge that the debate has often turned violent. It seems entirely reasonable, therefore, that those in charge of a public middle school with students twelve to fourteen years of age would want to distance the school and its pupils from a debate best left to more age mature educational levels. Indeed, even if a reasonable person could disagree with that assessment, the same reasonable person would be forced to agree that the contrary view, while perhaps mistaken, is nevertheless within the range of reasonableness. In any event, in addition to Hazelwood School District itself, there is ample authority for the proposition that the youth and immaturity of students below the high school level is an appropriate if not a vital consideration in determining whether a restraint on speech is permissible. See Walker-Serrano v. Leonard, 325 F.3d 412, 416 (3d Cir.2003) (Scirica, J.) (“[A]ny analysis of the students’ rights to expression on the one hand, and of schools’ need to control behavior and foster an environment conducive to learning on the other, must necessarily take into account the age and maturity of the student.”) (citations omitted). “Human sexuality provides the most obvious example of age-sensitive matter.” Id. at 417.

Carver Middle Sch. Gay-Straight Alliance v. Sch. Bd. of Lake County, Fla., 5:13-CV-623-OC-10PRL, 2014 WL 897072 (M.D. Fla. 2014)

How do you even begin to explain how this is wrong to someone who does not want to see it? The “debate” is not the source of violence in schools; the girl sought to gather with her peers and speak out against already existing violence. The judge’s opinion means that schools have a legitimate interest in silencing victims and those who want to stand with them in support, and that schools have a legitimate interest in deciding that students can come together to share ways to beat back opponents in organized sports but not come together to share ways to respond to actual peer abuse they say they suffer on a daily basis. The judge writes as though these kids do not already know what sexual orientation is. They clearly know what it is and they’re getting an unfortunate education in what it means.

News & Notes

Miami Herald: Mom gets children; DCF gets skewered

Under Chapter 39, the judicial and executive branches exercise concurrent jurisdiction over the welfare of foster children who have been placed in DCF’s custody. See Simms v. State Dep’t of Health and Rehab. Servs., 641 So.2d 957 (Fla. 3d DCA), review denied, 649 So.2d 870 (Fla.1994).

Dep’t of Children & Family Services v. Interest of J.C., 847 So. 2d 487, 490 (Fla. 3d DCA 2002).
News & Notes

Miami LGBTQ homeless youth may finally have somewhere safe to go

A comprehensive queer youth homelessness-fighting initiative? Yes please. Citrus will handle the housing. Pridelines and the Alliance for GLBTQ Youth will provide programming and training support. This will cover a huge need in South Florida:

“Our community needs assessment reported that an astonishing 34% of youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or who question their sexual identity have been kicked out of their homes here in Miami-Dade County,” said Carla Silva, executive director of The Alliance for GLBTQ Youth. “Additionally, an LGBTQ youth is likely to be physically or sexually victimized by seven or more people and run away from home almost twice as often as his or her heterosexual counterpart.”

Added Robin Schwartz, executive director of Aqua Foundation for Women, “Currently, there are no comprehensive housing solutions to care for displaced youth that are also equipped to deal with the special circumstances of an LGBTQ youth. This collaboration is going to change that.”

Press release: here.

Miami Herald: Miami-Dade volunteers survey kids on the street.

News & Notes

DCF Preparing to Create Independent Living Program Rules

DCF issued a Notice of Rulemaking for the new Independent Living Program. The notice gives us an idea of how they’ll organize the new administrative code. As of now, the new code sections are:

65C-41.001 Definitions
65C-41.002 Youth Program Participation Requirements
65C-41.003 Application Procedures for Initial Participation and Re-entry
65C-41.004 Case Management Services For Young Adults in Extended Foster Care
65C-41.005 Judicial Interaction
65C-41.006 Discharge from Program
65C-41.007 Appeals
65C-41.008 Fiscal Management Requirements

More to come, very quickly I’m sure.

News & Notes

Attorney-Client Privilege Case Set for Oral Argument, Again

Once again, R.L-R., the attorney-client privilege case, is set for oral argument on June 10, 2013 at 10:30 in the Third DCA. If you recall, last time the youth ran away and only his attorney knew where he was. The youth refused to tell or communicate with anyone else. DCF moved to compel the attorney to disclose the information, and the attorney refused citing privilege. Judge Hanzman, in a lengthy order, ruled that attorney-client privilege applies to children and youth in dependency proceedings and that there is no “best interests” exception. DCF took that ruling up on writ, which the Third DCA dismissed as moot when the child returned, despite requests from all parties for the Court to hear the matter.

Since that time, Judge Hanzman recused himself on an unrelated ground, and the case is now set before Judge Lederman. One of the main arguments made on behalf of the privilege is that, if the child does not feel he can safely talk to his attorney, the next time he runs away nobody will know where he is. Thankfully that didn’t happen: The child apparently ran again, but again kept in contact with his counsel. It is no surprise, however, since Judge Lederman has gone on record many times stating that she does not believe in attorneys for children, that she found that there is certainly an exception to the privilege for a child if it applies at all.

As I said before, this is a critical moment for the rights of dependent children in Florida. Equally so, though, this is a critical moment for all attorneys: if the state and courts can force an attorney to disclose information based on their own interpretations of what is in that client’s best interest, then there is no privilege at all. This encroachment at the edges should raise alarm bells across the Bar.

News & Notes

Orlando Sentinel: With LGBT groups in Capitol, House briefly debates ’sexual oreintation’ foster care bill

A beautiful moment:

 It was a rare first-person discussion for the Florida House: two openly gay lawmakers discussing the problems they experienced as teens.

The Florida House briefly showed its new, more diverse membership Tuesday when two freshmen openly gay House members supported an amendment to an otherwise non-controversial foster-care bill to prohibit foster parents from interfering in the “natural development of the child’s sexual orientation.”

From the Orlando Sentinel.

Foster care can do better all around at helping kids develop their personal identities, including their sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, culture, and personality. Families do that naturally through shared experience, history, and values. But foster care staff have to be trained and supported to help a kid develop identities that the staff member him or herself does not necessarily share.


Here’s a video of Rep. Richardson. Thanks Miami Herald.