Open Doors Expands to New Region and Counties

Good news! The Open Doors Outreach Network pilot is expanding, effective October 1st. Voices for Florida recently received notification that its 2017-2018 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant application has been approved, allowing for growth in service areas.

Five new counties (Flagler, Volusia, Brevard, Polk and Pinellas) and one new region (North Coastal) will begin receiving Open Doors services. In total, the Open Doors Outreach Network pilot is now serving six Florida regions covering 19 counties:

  • Big Bend (Leon and Bay counties): Children’s Home Society of the Big Bend, 850-219-4239
  • Central Florida (Polk, Orange, Osceola and Brevard counties): The Porch Light, 407-799-8719
  • Northeast (Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Baker and Clay counties): Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, 904-412-8923
  • North Coastal (Flagler and Volusia counties): Contract negotiations with provider underway; TBA mid-October
  • Suncoast (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota counties): More Too Life, 941-227-1012
  • Southwest (Collier and Lee counties): Children’s Home Society of Southwest FL, 239-896-7734

It is anticipated that the Open Doors Outreach Network pilot in these six regions will serve up to 650 victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking through September 30, 2018.

 

Summit Presentation Reveals Extraordinary Interest in Open Doors

From left to right: Lynne Harris, Dr. Brook Bello, Linda Alexionok, and Robyn Metcalf

Voices for Florida President Linda Alexionok and Robyn Metcalf, Statewide Director for Open Doors, joined Dr. Brook Bello, CEO and founder of More Too Life, and Lynne Harris, LMHC, in presenting an overview of the Open Doors Outreach Network to the 2017 Department of Children & Families Child Protection Summit. The team afterwards was inundated with questions about when Open Doors will expand beyond its initial pilot areas.

“It truly underscores the unmet needs of sexually exploited and trafficked children and young adults in Florida,” stated Alexionok. “Our goals are two-fold: Improve the care, coordination and collective community impact in the pilot regions, and work with local communities and their policy-makers to initiate coordinated and consistent services in more areas.”

 

2017 Human Trafficking Summit Recognizes and Inspires Progress

Attorney General Pam Bondi speaking at the 2017 Human Trafficking Summit

Attorney General Pam Bondi stood at the podium and inspired the 500+ participants at Florida’s 2017 Human Trafficking Summit with her passion, warmth and vision for a state, country and world beating back the ravages of trafficking. Bondi called on the private, public and faith-based sectors to join her and the other 49 Attorney Generals in America to force Backpage.com to discontinue the facilitation of child sex trafficking promoted on the website. The challenge was greeted by very strong support from those in attendance.

In her remarks, Bondi pointed to many organizations making progress over the past year. The Voices for Florida Open Doors Outreach Network was one fortunate initiative to receive mention for its effort to launch victim and survivor services in all of its pilot regions. The U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking was lauded for its safe house for serving boys among other organizations recognized for their efforts.

 

Research Highlight: National Best Practices for Sexual Assault Kits: A Multidisciplinary Approach

In support of the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFER) Act, which ensures the most effective practices for collecting DNA evidence in sexual assault investigations, the National Institute of Justice released National Best Practices for Sexual Assault Kits: A Multidisciplinary Approach. The report recommends specific practices focusing on victim-centered approaches for responding to sexual assault cases and supporting victims throughout the criminal justice process. Prioritizing collaborative, victim-centered and multidisciplinary approaches, this guide serves as a base on which agencies can develop protocols for untested sexual assault kits. Read Report

 

For more information or to make a referral, please contact the following:

  • Big Bend (Leon and Bay counties): Children’s Home Society of the Big Bend, 850-219-4239
  • Central Florida (Brevard, Orange, Osceola and Polk counties): The Porch Light, 407-799-8719
  • North Coastal (Flagler and Volusia counties): Contract negotiations with provider underway; TBA mid-October
  • Northeast (Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Baker and Clay counties): Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, 904-412-8923
  • Suncoast (Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties): More Too Life, 941-227-1012
  • Southwest (Collier and Lee counties): Children’s Home Society of Southwest FL, 239-896-7734
  • Statewide office (Tallahassee): Voices for Florida, 850-425-2621

Important Dates

  • October 14-15, 2017
    Manifesting Hope Open Doors Outreach Network Fundraising Event, Manifest Distillery, Jacksonville FL
  • October 19-20, 2017
    See the Girl Summit, Jesse Ball DuPont Center, Jacksonville, FL
  • October 24-26, 2017
    Shared Hope International JuST Conference, Hyatt Regency New Orleans, New Orleans, LA

 

If you believe you are a victim of or suspect human trafficking, please call:
Florida DCF Abuse Hotline: 1 (800) 962-2873 or National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1 (888) 373-7888

 

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