Expert Opinions

From Victim to Healer: How Surviving Sex Trafficking Informs Therapeutic Practice

This account by Emily Waters, a sex trafficking survivor turned clinician, demonstrates how she has applied her experiences to become a successful healer for victims. Waters cites her advanced understanding of trauma, interpersonal relationships and personal empowerment after trafficking as assets she is able to use to help those who have been exploited. Through Waters’ background and dedication to helping others, it is evident why the role of the clinician is crucial to healing sex trafficking victims. Read More

Serving Florida’s Sex Trafficking Victims: Moving Beyond Service Gaps to Coordinated Systems of Care

The Services and Resources Committee of the Florida Statewide Council on Human Trafficking has released its supplement to the 2016 annual report on human trafficking response in Florida. The committee found that Florida’s current system of care to serve victims of sex trafficking remains fragmented, and the state’s ability to strategically manage care and leverage services for survivors is weak. In order to better serve victims of sex trafficking, the committee has found that Florida should create a centralized, coordinated system to facilitate the continuity of services and improve outcomes for survivors. The committee additionally highlighted Voices for Florida’s Open Doors model as a promising structure for coordinated care, and recommended that the Open Doors facilitators be given time to operationalize the model and initiate service delivery. Read More

Interventions and Outcomes Remain Questionable for Florida’s CSE Children

Following up on a 2015 report, the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) has released a report detailing the existing gaps in services and placement challenges for child victims of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) in the state. OPPAGA’s report found that many of the CSE children identified in the 2015 report have since either been re-victimized, have interacted with the criminal justice system, or have not consistently attended school, drawing questions about effective treatment and outcomes for these children. The report illuminated the significant problems lead agencies have in placing CSE children in designated safe houses and safe foster homes, and found that traditional child welfare programs and CSE placements may not be suitable for CSE children due to the complex mental health and substance abuse needs they often face. Read More

Adults Under Stress Can Undermine Children’s Learning, a Study Finds

While scientist have long established that the crucial first years of life provide the foundation on which learning and life-long progress for children originates, the quality of life struggles for a large number of child care workers, and the impact these struggles have on children’s learning environments, is going unnoticed and not being addressed. 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

Towards a New Understanding of Mental Illness

30% of survivors from strokes, one of the biggest killers in the US, can now leave the hospital without any disability if they can get to the emergency room within 3 hours of onset. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, attributes such success stories to early detection. View Video

Better Serve Citizens & Add to Economic Opportunity

Bruce J. Katz, a Centennial Scholar at the Brookings Institution, suggests the U.S look across the ocean to the U.K. for ways to better consolidate government revenue streams, grant greater budgetary flexibility to better serve citizens, and add to economic opportunity. Read More

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

Imbalance in the Federal expenditure between elderly and children

Government spending on the elderly continues to grow at the federal level, what impact might this have on state policy decisions. Read More

Your Kids + My Kids = Our Kids.

Author, public policy professional and educator, Robert Putnam states that the US is experiencing a violation of the core idea of American society where “how you do in life should depend upon your needy skills, talent and your hard work but it shouldn’t depend on what your parents did or did not.” Read More

We’re Making Life Too Hard for Millennials

Steven Rattner, a Wall Street executive and opinion writer, notes that Millennials finances are strapped. The most educated generation in history is on track to becoming less prosperous than their parents and grandparents. 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

No Way Up

The idea that growing inequality will hurt upward mobility might seem self-evident. Likening the problem to “climate change” Putnam says we can’t wait for perfect clarity but must act now to save the American Dream. Photo credit © Simon & Schuster. Read More

The New Jobs Report Shows Janet Yellen’s Quandar in a Nutshell

…Some Fed Watchers are not sure sure that adds up. Read More

Tampa Bay Times Op-Ed Florida Adds Jobs, but Below the Surface Worker Data Bleak

 It seems that economic “good news” abounds in Florida these days. Unemployment fell to 5.6 percent in December, the state’s lowest rate since 2008. According to ADP’s latest monthly report, Florida remains the third-best job creator in the nation. The governor’s office reports more than 728,000 private-sector jobs have been created since 2010.

Things do appear to be looking up, but are we seeing the entire economic picture? Read More

Florida Job Growth Skewed Towards Lower End of Wage Scale

A recent study from the Economic Policy Institute shows the State of Florida ranking fourth worst in income equality. The top 1 percent of Florida wage earners made an average of $1.49 million in 2012, while the bottom 99 percent earned an average family income of $34,387. 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

Yellen: Greatly concerned by widening income gap

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen sounded an alarm Friday about widening economic inequality in the United States, suggesting that America’s longstanding identity as a land of opportunity was at stake. Read More

What’s So Scary About Smart Girls?

WHEN terrorists in Nigeria organized a secret attack last month, they didn’t target an army barracks, a police department or a drone base. No, Boko Haram militants attacked what is even scarier to a fanatic: a girls’ school. That’s what extremists do. They target educated girls, their worst nightmare.That’s why the Pakistani Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai in the head at age 15. That’s why the Afghan Taliban throws acid on the faces of girls who dare to seek an education. Read More

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