Open Doors – A Promising Coordinated System Serving Commercially Sexually Trafficked and Exploited Victims
In 2012, the Florida Legislature passed the Safe Harbor Act, which allowed sex trafficked children to be considered dependent children in need of therapeutic services, rather than juvenile delinquents. Implementation of the landmark legislation, however, has lacked strategic development, coordination, continuity, and resources. Throughout much of Florida, large gaps exist within cross-sector collaboration, professional development and training, and trauma-focused crisis intervention and therapeutic services to meet the complex needs of commercially sexually exploited and trafficked victims.
Adapting Nationwide Promising Practice for Use in Florida
To enhance service delivery and improve outcomes for male and female victims, up to age 24, Voices for Florida is implementing Open Doors, a promising coordinated system serving trafficked and exploited victims. Envisioned by Dr. Lawanda Ravoira and Roy Miller, considered among the nation’s leading experts on girls and children’s issues, respectively, Open Doors adapts promising practices from Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Georgia for use in Florida. Emerging research is also continuously explored by Voices to build statewide uniformity in “best practices” for serving this population.
A hallmark of the Open Doors’ program is the placement of commercially sexually exploited and trafficked victims in the care of a coordinated team of professionals. This team includes highly trained survivor-mentors, known as First Responders, who are on-call 24/7 to provide immediate crisis intervention, along with day-to-day trauma-informed care management. Regional advocates and clinicians round out the service team and work in concert with cross-sector stakeholders at the community and state level, including law enforcement.
Improved Outcomes and Processes for Sexually Trafficked and Exploited Victims
Voices for Florida serves as the Coordinating System Administrator and Innovator for Open Doors. In this role, VFF designs and promotes effective systems to harness research-based knowledge in support of the treatment and care of sexually exploited children and young adults. Voices is responsible for:
- coordinating and monitoring cross-sector implementation
- identifying ways to further leverage resources
- developing common goals, and uniform protocols, training and education requirements among stakeholders
- measuring key youth, program and system outcomes
- providing program and policy guidance and highlight gaps
- continually improving program performance
Initially Available in Five Florida Regions
Beginning as early as May 1, 2017 Open Doors will serve five Florida regions: Northeast Florida (Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Bakers, Clay); Big Bend (Leon); Central Florida (Orange, Osceola); Southwest Florida (Collier, Lee); and the Suncoast (Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota).
Open Doors is funded through federal (VOCA), state and private dollars. Additional funding and public-private partnerships are currently being sought to sustain and expand services throughout Florida