Open Doors – A Promising Coordinated System Serving 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 that meet the complex needs of sexually exploited and trafficked victims.
Adapting Nationwide Promising Practices 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.
A hallmark of the Open Doors’ program is the placement of 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 will serve as the Coordinating System Administrator and Innovator for Open Doors. In this role, VFF will design and promote effective systems to harness research-based knowledge in support of the treatment and care of sexually exploited children and young adults. Voices will:
- coordinate and monitor cross-sector implementation
- identify ways to further leverage resources
- develop common goals, and uniform protocols, training and education requirements among stakeholders
- measure key youth, program and system outcomes
- provide program and policy guidance and highlight gaps
- continually improve program performance
It is anticipated that Open Doors will launch in five Florida regions in 2017 and 2018: 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).
An initial general revenue appropriation was secured for Open Doors from the 2016 Florida Legislature. Additional funding and public-private partnerships are currently being sought to sustain and expand services throughout Florida.