Open Doors Outreach Network services are rolling out in four of the five pilot regions in Florida – Northeast, Big Bend, Suncoast and Southwest Florida. Central Florida will be on-line shortly. The Open Doors Outreach Network is a new public-private partnership to improve care, coordination and collective impact for victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking, mostly children and young adults up to age 24.
Funding for direct services through September 2017 is being provided through a federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant, awarded in April 2017 to Voices for Florida, Coordinated System Administrator for Open Doors.
“With the dire need for services, Voices for Florida in partnership with DCF, DJJ and our service providers have been working with an extreme sense of urgency to ramp up services as quickly as possible,” explained Robyn Metcalf, Statewide Open Doors Director for Voices for Florida.
Within weeks since receiving the greenlight for direct services funding, provider contracts were signed, service delivery standards were written and adopted, the first wave of staff were hired and trained and services are being provided to victims. “For a brand new service operating in a complex environment, this track record is remarkable and demonstrates the deep commitments of DCF, DJJ and our Open Doors service providers,” added Metcalf.
Gradual, Yet Steady Ramp Up
Building the network brick by brick but steadily is driven in part by the newness of the service. Coordination is also paramount with the wide range of providers and stakeholders involved, carefully constructed to meet the specific needs of each pilot region.
In addition, a new joint response protocol between DCF and Open Doors for cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) that are called into the Florida Abuse Hotline is currently being developed for anticipated implementation in the pilot regions.
With Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) money supporting the effort, which is reimbursement based and not up front support, caseloads must be filled by each employee before another staff can be added. Metcalf explained that “… hiring patterns are being judiciously balanced with referral loads to maintain service quality and to prevent staff burnout.”
Building Strong Referral Pipelines
Steps are being taken by Voices for Florida in partnership with our Open Doors Outreach Network providers in the pilot regions to secure strong referral pipelines of victims upon identification.
Upon referral to the Open Doors team, victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking receive wrap-around services from a team of professionals including Survivor-Mentors, Regional Advocates and Clinicians. On call 24/7, the team provides immediate and ongoing support to victims, including but not limited to, crisis intervention, day-to-day care management and information and referral to meet the individual needs of the victim.
The Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center began providing Open Doors Outreach Network services to three clients in Northeast Florida in mid-June, and is on track to serve up to 20 in September. Services began in mid-July in the Big Bend and Southwest Florida regions through Children’s Home Society, which estimates it will be serving up to 12 clients in each region by September. Although More Too Life just recently came on board to provide services in the Suncoast region, it has already hit the ground running and is serving clients as well. Services are expected to be under contract in the Central Florida pilot region by the end of August.
A continuation application for VOCA funding for services for the 2017-2018 fiscal year was submitted in the spring and is awaiting its technical review. Conversations are taking place with a wide array of partners examining the braided funding streams to enhance the VOCA direct service funding.
For more information or to make a referral, please contact the following Open Doors providers:
Northeast (Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Baker and Clay counties): Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, 904-412-8923
Big Bend (Leon and Bay counties): Children’s Home Society of North Central FL, 850-219-4239
Suncoast (Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota counties): More Too Life, 941-227-1012
Southwest (Collier and Lee counties): Children’s Home Society of Southwest FL, 239-896-7734
Statewide office (Tallahassee): Voices for Florida, 850-425-2621
Did You Know?
- 1 in 6 of the 18,500 runaways reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 2016 were likely victims of sex trafficking?
- 86% of these likely victims of sex trafficking were in the care of social services or foster care when they went missing.
Source: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
- August 29-31, 2017
2017 Child Protection Summit, Orlando, FL
- October 2, 2017
Human Trafficking Summit, Orlando, FL
- October 18-19, 2017
See the Girl Summit, Jacksonville, FL
- October 24-26, 2017
Share Hope International JuST Conference, New Orleans, LA
If you believe you are a victim of or suspect human trafficking, please call:
Florida DCF Abuse Hotline: 1 (800) 962-2873 or National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1 (888) 373-7888