Innovation Spotlight: Open Doors Update

New Year Brings New Coordinated System for Helping Trafficked and Exploited Victims

January 11, 2017 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. According to experts, sex trafficking is the fastest growing business of organized crime with an estimated revenue of $32 billion annually, or $87 million a day. Human trafficking is the world’s second-largest criminal enterprise, second only to drugs. Unlike the sale of drugs where the supply can only meet one demand, human trafficking uses one victim (the supply) to meet multiple demands. The business of sex trafficking is not going away anytime soon. Over 5,900 cases of human trafficking nationwide were reported in 2015 with Florida ranking 3rd in the nation for reported calls.
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Research Spotlight

Human Trafficking of Minors and Childhood Adversity in Florida

A report was recently published detailing the relationship between human trafficking of minors and childhood adversity in Florida. Findings show that sexual abuse is the strongest predictor of human trafficking for both boys and girls, and that sexual abuse in childhood may actually function as a “gateway” to other forms of victimization. This research is some of the only in this field that provides adequate data on boys that have been sexually exploited.
Read the Report

  Top News

What if Sociologists Had as Much Influence as Economists?

Neil Irwin, a senior economics correspondent for the New York Times, draws attention to the idea that studying and solving economic issues is only one piece of fixing broad and complex societal issues. Sociologists can help explain non-economic forces involved in societal issues like unemployment, homelessness, and poverty and Irwin suggests the field as an untapped resource that could bridge gaps in creating effective solutions. The potential for sociologists to aid economists in informing decisions about public policy is great, if not essential.  Read More

The Cost of Raising a Child Keeps Rising

The USDA has done this reckoning since 1960, looking at annual expenditures on food, clothing, housing, transportation, health care, education, child care and the miscellaneous costs that keep a parent’s wallet partway open. That’s true, too, of education and child care costs. Read More

3 TVs and No Food: Growing Up Poor in America

New York Time’s journalist Nicholas Kristoff does a great job illustrating our nation’s unsettling inequalities when it comes to income, wealth, education, and ultimately, opportunity. Robert Putnam, who the New York Time’s refers to as a “laureate poet of civil society”, wrote his critically acclaimed book “Our Kids,” about these same inequalities (the book itself poised as an instant-classic and was well regarded by liberals and conservatives alike) . What is most striking, and highlighted by both Kristoff and Putnam, is that as a nation we’re not facing just an income or opportunity gap, but a widening gap. Kristoff laments “what many Americans don’t understand about poverty is that it’s perhaps less about a lack of money than not seeing any path out.” Today, in the United States, the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. Today, in the United States, the cycle of poverty is being perpetuated and worsening and there’s little to nothing being done to stop it. Read More

Adults, Agencies Failed Alyssa Beck

Growing up in Jacksonville, Alyssa Beck was a victim of human trafficking. Now 21, she courageously speaks about her victimization and how much of what she experienced could have been prevented had the government seen her as a victim, instead of as a criminal. With the Florida’s Safe Harbor Law now in place and VFF’s own Open Doors Network starting next year, the chances of another Alyssa Beck are shrinking as victims are being connected with the services they truly need and are being seen as the victims they really are. Read More

Just 21, Human-Trafficking Survivor Alyssa Beck has Lived a Life Most Cannot Imagine

Before she was 15, Alyssa Beck was a victim of human trafficking, and before she was 21, she had spent nearly three years in jail. In this article, Alyssa’s history with trafficking, the Juvenile Justice system and treatment is examined in-depth, as is her recovery and growth into the strong advocate for victims of human trafficking she is today. Read More

   US Concentrated Poverty in the Wake of the Great Recession

Smiley face In spite of the declining unemployment rate, the amount of people living under the federal poverty line in the United States continues to remain stuck at recession-era record levels even though the recession ended in 2009. Read the Report

   See the Change: Girls’ Juvenile Justice Trends on the First Coast

A new report demonstrates progress for girls in the 4th Judicial Circuit, which used to be considered the harshest district in Florida. Read the Report

   Breaking New Ground on the First Coast: Examining Girls’ Pathways into the Juvenile Justice System

Learn research-based findings of what girls in Florida’s Juvenile Justice system say about their pathways in the system. Read the Report

   Philanthropy + Venture Capital = A Much Needed Investment Model

In his article, “Saving the World, Start-up Style,” Adam Davidson, co-founder of NPR’s “Planet Money,” proposes that a combination of philanthropy and the venture-capital philosophy of embracing risk, could have significant impact on the poor. This new method of investing could be a welcomed relief for the more than 950,000 or 24% of Florida children living in poverty. Read More

   How America is Failing its Youth

A new report by Opportunity Nation, Zeroing In on Place and Race, states that the economic toll of disconnected youth reveals an astonishingly high cost to America’s taxpayers of $26.8 billion in 2013 alone. Approximately one fifth of youth in Florida are neither working nor in school. Read More

   Poll Shows American Women Leaving the Workforce

As recently as 1990, the United States had one of the top employment rates in the world for women, but it has now fallen behind many European countries, according to a recent New York Times/CBS News/Kaiser Family Foundation poll. After climbing for six decades, the percentage of women in the American workforce peaked in 1999, at 74 percent for women between 25 and 54. It has fallen since, to 69 percent today. The percentage of working women in many other countries, however, has continued to climb. Among the countries outranking the United States in prime-age women’s labor force are Switzerland, Australia, Germany France, Britain, Canada, Poland, Portugal, Japan — just to name a few. Read More


At Voices for Florida, we believe that every person really can make a difference, and that every difference made really does matter. It all starts with what you know. Voices for Florida empowers our members with knowledge – well-researched, evidence-based best practices and data on quality-of-life issues that are critical to us and our children’s future.


Sharing is the universal language of human interaction, which brain scientists call the essential ingredient for strengthening social ties and enhancing quality of life. At Voices for Florida, our members gain a sense of unity and common purpose by connecting and sharing high-impact knowledge.


Collaboration is not a spectator sport. Activities that bring people together to engage in collective problem-solving or raise awareness create powerful connections that can last a lifetime and literally change the world. Voices for Florida offers members diverse ways to get engaged and contribute to help build a better future for us all.


Rooted in the Old English word for “bold,” the act of building is inspired and driven by the courage and confidence that the effort will have impact. Simply put, when Voices for Florida members know, share and engage, they collectively drive better outcomes to build strong communities and successful families, creating a better future for our children.

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