January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. During the month of January, advocates, organizations, and individuals unite to raise awareness about Human Trafficking, defined as the “recruitment, transportation, harboring, or purchase of persons for the sole purpose of exploitation.” Brevard Family Partnership has strengthened its’ focus and support on the identification, prevention and treatment of survivors. Clinicians in the provider network have engaged in cross-sector collaboration, professional development, training, and trauma-informed crisis intervention and therapeutic services to meet the complex needs of commercially sexually exploited and trafficked survivors. Delivered by licensed practitioners, the treatment  involves processing the psychological practices of Human Trafficking and addressing common mental health conditions experienced by survivors, such as depression or other co-occurring disorders. Trauma healing and recovery initiates a restorative process, encouraging survivors to build resiliency, restore dignity and experience their own transformation.

In 2012, Florida passed House Bill (HB) 99, also known as the Florida Safe Harbor Act. This legislation allows for minors to be deemed as dependent instead of delinquent as it gives law enforcement the discretion to either arrest or deliver the minor to a short-term safe house, if available. In 2016, HB 7141 expanded the provisions of the Florida Safe Harbor Act by requiring the use of a screening instrument for the identification of sexually exploited children, service planning and placement. In the BFP System of Care, case managers receive specialized training prior to working with children that have been sexually exploited. The HB also provided standards to certify a foster home or group home desiring to care for sexually exploited children.  Upon receipt of this specialized training and certification, these settings are credentialed as “Safe Foster Homes” or “Safe Houses “ 

As always, the safety of the survivor is the paramount concern. Never attempt to confront a suspected trafficker directly or alert a victim to any suspicions. Contact law enforcement to investigate suspected cases of Human Trafficking. If you suspect a child is a victim, please call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center can be accessed at humantraffickinghotline.org for additional information.