Orange County ranks fourth in Florida for child sex trafficking victims
Voices for Florida announced that FLITE Center was awarded a contract to provide Open Doors Outreach Network services to sex trafficked children and young adults ages 10 – 24 in the Central Florida region. FLITE Center anticipates it will begin accepting referrals this Spring to provide Open Doors services in Orange, Lake, Seminole, and Osceola counties. In 2021, Orange County ranked fourth in the number of Florida counties in with reports of verified child sex trafficking victims.
Voices for Florida’s Open Doors Outreach Network is the state’s leading trauma-informed 24/7 network for helping sex trafficked children and young adults. Victims are supported by a team of professionals, including Survivor-Mentors, Regional Advocates, Clinicians, and Victim Services Coordinators that work together to provide emergency stabilization, individualized wellness plans, ongoing support and more to help victims heal.
Over 1,300 Victims Have Received Open Doors Outreach Network Services
“In our past four years serving sex trafficking survivors, we’ve seen that victims often intersect with the child welfare system,” said Deborah Foote, Voices for Florida President. “The FLITE Center has a proven track record of serving foster youth. Their Central Florida services will be a major asset to the Open Doors Outreach Network.”
Open Doors Outreach Network services are currently available in five other Florida regions: Big Bend, Gold and Treasure Coast, Northeast Florida, Southeast Florida and Suncoast. Since 2017, over 1,300 sex trafficked child and young adult victims have been served by the Open Doors Outreach Network.
“With the amount of sex trafficked children and young adults in Central Florida, the Open Doors Outreach Network approach to services is greatly needed in our community,” said Christine M. Frederick, CEO of FLITE Center.
All Children are Vulnerable
Florida is a hot spot for human trafficking, ranking third in the nation for reports to the National Human Hotline. There were 738 reports of human trafficking in Florida to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2020, the latest statistics available. Most of the reports (517) were for sex trafficking and 142 reports involved minors. In 2020 there were 25 verified child sex trafficking victims in Orange County, 8 in Seminole County, 7 in Osceola County and 5 in Lake County. Orange County consistently ranks in the top 5 counties for prevalence of verified victims.
“The unique approach of the Open Doors Outreach Network ensures standardized high-quality services are always available for sex trafficked children and young adults. This results in better outcomes for those most vulnerable,” said Christine M. Frederick, CEO of FLITE Center.
The average age of a child sex trafficking victim is just 12-14. Both boys and girls are victimized. All children are vulnerable, but foster children, runaways and homeless youth are especially at risk.