2018: A Year of Remarkable Growth, Partnership and Success for Open Doors Outreach Network

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2018 will be remembered by Voices for Florida as a truly remarkable year for advancing how Florida provides for the needs of child and young adult victims of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) and sex trafficking. The number of Florida victims, ages 10-24, receiving 24/7 ongoing and immediate trauma-competent care from July 2017-December 2018 from the Open Doors Outreach Network was 451 – exceeding expectations.

The high need for trauma-competent services and increased public awareness of sex trafficking, confirms there is growing demand for the Open Doors Outreach Network, a 24/7 network of care operated by Voices for Florida in partnership with four Network Providers– Children’s Home Society, Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, One More Child – Anti Trafficking (formerly Florida Baptist Children’s Home) and More Too Life.

A hallmark of our Open Doors model is our collective ability to place CSEC and trafficked children and young adults in the care of “victim-centered, survivor-led” Open Doors Outreach Teams. These 24/7 teams, consisting of – Survivor-Mentors, Clinicians and Regional Advocates provide immediate crisis intervention, along with day-to-day trauma-competent management.

Growing our 24/7 Network of Trauma-Competent Care to 32 Counties

In October, Voices for Florida began scaling Open Doors Outreach Network services from 19 to 32 Florida counties. The 13 additional counties include Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Liberty, Madison, Taylor and Wakulla counties in the Big Bend region; Putnam county in the North Coastal region; Lake and Sumter counties in the Central region; Pasco and Hernando counties in the Suncoast region; and Charlotte county in the Southwest region.

Open Doors Outreach Network Provider Achievements in 2018

In addition to providing 24/7 care to victims throughout 2018, our Open Doors Outreach Network Providers accomplished notable achievements in 2018:

Children’s Home Society: On October 10, 2018, Florida was significantly impacted by Hurricane Michael. Regretfully, staff with Children’s Home Society, our Big Bend Open Doors Provider, suffered significant property damage from the life-threatening hurricane. Committed to faithfully serve victims despite massive destruction, the Outreach team members with leadership and support of Children’s Home Society, stabilized their needs and quickly resumed services to victims of sex trafficking in the Big Bend region. The efforts and actions taken by Children’s Home Society and the Open Doors team during this life-threatening storm are examples of the tireless dedication and responsiveness of the Open Doors Outreach Network.

Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center: Open Doors Outreach Network Survivor-Mentor Jamie Rosseland was recognized as the Survivor Advocate of the Year at the 2018 Human Trafficking Summit in October. Attorney General Pam Bondi and Governor Rick Scott presented this statewide acknowledgement in recognition of Rosseland’s impactful, individualized services to survivors and powerful community engagement efforts.

One More Child – Anti Trafficking: Voices for Florida worked with One More Child to bring the Open Doors Outreach Network to the statewide and national stage.  In honor of recognizing January as Human Trafficking Awareness month, Voices for Florida, One More Child – Anti Trafficking, One Purse and Into the Jordan Ministries hosted Traffick Stop in Tallahassee. The event brought cross-sector stakeholders, law enforcement, service providers and community members together to increase awareness and encourage more legislative action. Voices for Florida’s Open Doors Statewide Director Robyn Metcalf and Senior Advisor Roy Miller presented milestones the legislature has achieved for victims and educated the assembly about the groundbreaking model of the Open Doors Outreach Network.

Robyn Metcalf also brought our innovative work to a larger stage by presenting at multiple national conferences with Executive Director of One More Child – Anti-Trafficking, Christa Hicks. These conferences included Shared Hope International JuST Faith conference in St. Paul, Minnesota and Shared Hope International JuST conference in San Diego, California. Metcalf and Hicks presented on the relationship between Voices for Florida as the backbone organization and One More Child as a Network Provider of two regions. Metcalf also outlined the need to serve survivors through a collective impact approach and Hicks, as a survivor, spoke to the importance of our victim-centered, survivor-led approach.

More Too Life: The Open Doors team at More Too Life continued to build vital cross-sector collaborations and partnerships throughout the Suncoast community. These important collaborations enable them to leverage existing services that are helping to meet the needs of victims. These important cross-sector collaborations include government, nonprofit agencies, law enforcement, education, faith-based, housing and healthcare. Working together with these sectors, the Open Doors team is developing new processes to improve services and outcomes for child and young adult victims of sex trafficking.

Strengthening our Collective Impact Approach and Role as a Backbone Organization

During 2018, Voices expanded its knowledge and practice of collective impact, the powerful approach for solving social problems through structured collaboration that has gained national momentum. Serving as the backbone organization for the Open Doors Outreach Network, Voices for Florida worked throughout 2018 to bring together community stakeholders from different — but interdependent — sectors to address the complexity of care and treatment of child and young adult victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking.

To strengthen the capabilities of our backbone role for the Open Doors Outreach Network, Voices for Florida President Linda Alexionok joined over 400 leaders from the nonprofit, government, business and philanthropy sectors at the Collective Impact Forum’s national conference. Workshop presenters introduced new tools and strategies for solving complex social problems effectively. These included topics such as Backbone Structures and Strategies; Evaluating Collective Impact Efforts; Fostering Cross-Sector Collaboration and System Change; and Vision to Implementation. Voices is utilizing lessons learned and tools acquired to enhance our backbone support for the Open Doors Outreach Network, including its vision and strategy, policy advancements, resource mobilization, community engagement, aligned activities support and performance measurements.

Applied Learning Fosters Model Integrity and Best Practices

Guided by the professional social work and victim advocacy expertise of Voices for Florida Education and Training Director Micheala Denny – and in collaboration with subject matter experts across a wide variety of fields – several professional learning opportunities were provided by Voices for Florida for the Open Doors Outreach Network team members throughout the state.

Education and applied learning experiences in 2018 included: best practices and research for the care and treatment of commercially sexually exploited and sex trafficked victims; how collective impact advances success within communities through Open Doors Outreach Network model; and the guiding and supportive role of Voices for Florida as a backbone organization.

Analogous to a quarterback, who doesn’t score the touchdown but helps drive the team to victory, team members learned that a backbone organization supports them by engaging in six important activities critical to their success: guiding overall vision and strategy; supporting the alignment of activities for effectiveness and efficiency; establishing shared measurement practices across the system of care; engaging community stakeholders so they have ownership; advancing public policy through the government process; and mobilizing funding from various public and private sources.

Additional achievements in 2018 included Voices for Florida’s release of the Framework for Creating the Change: Open Doors Outreach Network. This document outlines the purpose and goals of the Open Doors Outreach Network, and serves to ensure services and program protocols, foster best-practices, promote the importance of cross-sector stakeholder engagement and explain the role of Voices for Florida as the backbone organization for the Open Doors Outreach Network. It includes both a theoretical framework based on victim-centered, survivor-led and trauma-competent care as well as a practical step-by-step guide for driving this theory into practice. This document builds on and replaces the previously released 2017 publication, Statewide Promising Best Practice Guidelines to Support a Continuum of Services for Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking.

Also in 2018, Voices for Florida launched Open Doors Outreach Network 101, an interactive web-based training created in collaboration with the Florida State University Center for Information and Education Services (CIMES). This interactive, online training features survivor stories and team member experiences to foster “firsthand” understanding of how the Open Doors approach advances successful care and treatment of victims.  The training also provides a self-evaluation tool that allows learners to confirm their comprehension and understanding.

In collaboration with subject matter experts from Boston University, Arc of Freedom Alliance, Justice Restoration Center and the Florida Department of Children and Families, Voices for Florida also provided four interactive live webinars for the Open Doors Outreach Network Service Providers. Topics included:

  • Mandatory Reporting
  • Cultural Competency and Specific Vulnerabilities of LGBTQIA+ Populations
  • Working with Make Survivors
  • Criminal Records Expungement for Survivors of Sex Trafficking

 

Translational Research to Further Raise Care and Treatment Competencies

Through translational research, Voices for Florida aims to facilitate the practical application of scientific discoveries and academic research into the development and implementation of treatment services to victims. Last year, for example, Voices for Florida supported a research brief that illustrated best practices for Survivor-Mentors practicing in field.

In addition, Voices for Florida supported the work of researchers who focused on improvements in clinical practice, insights into building a survivor-led network of care, options for providing housing, and process mapping studies. A sampling of such research includes:

  • Housing and Social Service Options for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) Housing -Tomi Gomory, Ph.D., MSW, Florida State University, Dani Groton, Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University.
  • Promising Practices for Building a Survivor-Led Network Serving Commercially Sexually Exploited Children and Young Adults – Lynne Harris, MPH, LMHC, LPC, ATR
  • A Vital Tool for Problem Solving and Achieving Organizational Excellence, – Maryum Khan, Ph.D Candidate, Boston University
  • Open Doors Outreach Network Developmental Evaluation Plan, – Iskandaria Masduki, Ph.D., Center for Information Management and Educational Services, Florida State University

Subsequent to the significant impacts this translational research has already had in the medical, biological and behavioral sciences fields, it is our goal for the findings of this newly commissioned translational research to better serve victims by providing evidence-based insights that inform and transform the work of Voices for Florida and our Outreach Team members.

The Road Ahead: Building Local, Cross-Sector and Organizational Leadership

We look to 2019 with optimism and enthusiasm as we scale, stabilize and grow the Open Doors Outreach Network into 32 counties. Embracing the wisdom and experience we’ve gleaned from our inception, and empowered through the valuable knowledge obtained from our Open Doors Outreach Network Providers and other key stakeholders, Voices for Florida in partnership with our Network Providers is poised to take important next steps to “build a strong, local team” across key sectors, guided by a shared aim and transparent data sharing.

Building a strong, local team means recruiting and working closely with leaders across key sectors. It calls for identifying and cultivating essential partners who work from a common agenda and shared metrics that offer a system of care designed to assist and empower victims as they heal and continue on their path towards wellness. In 2019 our focus throughout the network will be to reinforce and strengthen the social benefit of the services and work of the Open Doors Outreach Teams, leverage local and state government services and resources, engage significant business relationships, expand access to financial resources and identify philanthropic organizations ready to leverage funding and redirect resource flows to achieve even more impact and successful outcomes.

To enhance the communication and digital media efforts of the Open Doors Outreach Network, Tiffany McGlinchey joined the Voices for Florida team as the Information and Outreach Specialist. Tiffany earned her master’s degree from Florida State University in Integrated Marketing Communication. Sam Kimelman joined the organization as the Budget, Grant Compliance and Audit Director. As a CPA with over 20 years of experience including positions such as controller, chief financial officer and president of ERS Group, a nationwide professional services consulting firm, Sam is further strengthening the fiscal and mobilization of funding efforts required for the continued development and implementation of the Open Doors Outreach Network. Also joining our team as our Open Doors Direct Services Quality Assurance Manager was Calvin (Cal) Brooks. Cal has over 20 years of experience in management, strategic relationships, program development, process optimization, talent development and cross-functional team leadership across both non-profit and for-profit organizations.

Also during 2018, Voices for Florida enhanced its board leadership and governance with the addition of four highly committed and professional leaders. New board members include: Katrina Tuggerson-Alexander, Director of Community Development at Tallahassee Leon Federal Credit Union; Samantha Sexton, Government Relations Director at the University of Florida; Bethany Swonson, Executive Director at Florida Education Foundation; and Clint Weber, Senior Vice President of Credit Administration at Prime Meridian Bank.

In the road ahead, Voices for Florida will further our collaborations with our Service Providers and others to ensure the Open Doors Outreach Network continues to be guided through the lens of a “victim-centered, survivor-led” approach. Throughout 2018, it was truly an honor to collaborate with passionate, skilled network partners, team members, thought leaders, government partners and cross-sector professionals on a common goal to make a difference for Florida’s children and young adult victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking.

 

If you would like more information about the Open Doors Outreach Network please contact
Robyn Metcalf, Open Doors Statewide Director at [email protected] or 850-425-2621.