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Building on Safe Harbor

For the first time in weeks, we can look past the debate over locking up victims of sex trafficking and talk about how best to help them. The shift in conversation is largely attributed to the wise leadership of Representative Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) and Senator Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood). It also marks the return of basing legislative decisions on research and best practice rather than on the anecdotal and over sensationalized stories frequently offered up by providers. The legislation, which has cleared the House and awaits Senate action, no longer includes the controversial provision to involuntarily detain victims of rape and abuse...

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Know the Facts on Locking Up
Child Abuse and Rape Victims

Information is power, but there’s a surprising number of policymakers operating in the dark on the issue of Safe Harbor and locking up victims. For starters, let’s be clear: These children – girls and boys – are victims of abuse, rape and other unspeakable acts. Safe Harbor, which took effect last year, recognized this fact. The good direction of that legislation is why we today consider exploited children victims, not criminals. But now we’re looking at setting a precedent in Florida. For the first time, we’re talking about confining victims of abuse and rape against their will. The ill-founded notion...

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UPDATE: Senate Sex Trafficking Bill Changes Number

For those of you working diligently to remove the “secure” language from the sex trafficking bills please note: SB 7088 is now SB 1724. Please update your talking points to reflect this change. This Legislation returns the state to locking up vulnerable children.  Victims of child abuse and child rape could be held against their will for as long as 10 months in psychiatric units, detention-like facilities, or so-called “secure” locations that are little more than residential jails. There’s no research to support that such a strategy works.  Consequences: Already exploited by their trafficker, victims held against their will would face re-victimization...

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Media Expose Florida’s Flaws

Two different stories. Two venerable news organizations. One heartbreaking, similar theme: Florida can do better by its children. An investigation by the Miami Herald into deaths related to the child welfare system and a report by PolitiFact Florida on the real story behind Gov. Rick Scott’s boastful tweet about Florida’s pre-K program point out failings in how the state protects and educates its children. We applaud the two organizations for highlighting these issues. They are top priorities for The Children’s Campaign and our supporters. We wish we could say the news reports are surprising. But they are not. Too often...

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Safe Harbor Under Attack

Download and share Return to Unsafe Harbor? today! Florida’s Safe Harbor Act is in peril. And it’s the vulnerable child victims of sex trafficking who are in jeopardy. An effort is underway with some members of the Florida House of Representatives to again lock up vulnerable children.  They could be locked up for as long as 10 months in psychiatric units, detention-like facilities, or so-called  “secure” houses that are little more than residential jails. You won’t see the words “lock up” in their proposals, however.  Legislators were advised in a workshop that those words would result in pushback.  So they...

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Legislative Session at Your Fingertips

March 04, 2014 – Legislative Session starts today, and The Children’s Campaign is making it as simple as possible to follow all of the bill movement that will impact Florida’s children. The Children’s Campaign’s LEGISLATIVE CENTER places action opportunities, policy maker contact information, and legislation tagged by issue area in a one-stop shop. In addition, it features our most recent Legislative Connections – narrative reports of the week’s activities related to children. Important issues will be addressed this Session: reform of Florida’s broken child welfare system, life sentencing of juveniles, the way the state treats victims of human trafficking, early...

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Don’t Play Jenga with Child Protection

February 13, 2014 – Florida’s child protective services system is the definition of instability. The state’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) has a history of radical changes to the Child Protective Investigations (CPI) mission and structure based on reactions to high-profiles cases of tragic child deaths. Legislative leaders have expressed their impatience. Speaker of the House Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz included child welfare reform in their shared priorities for 2014. They would invest in the expansion of Florida’s Guardian ad Litem program, increase funding for child advocacy centers, and strengthen protections against sexual predators. We encourage...

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See the Girl: Events and Position Paper

The Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center (The Policy Center) is a nonprofit organization based in Jacksonville that engages communities, organizations and individuals through quality research, community organizing, advocacy, training and model programming to advance the rights of girls and young women, especially those in the justice and child protection systems. Its president and CEO, Dr. Lawanda Ravoira, is one of the country’s foremost experts in gender-responsive trauma informed care. Her lengthy accomplishments include rescuing sex trafficked children off the strip in Ft. Lauderdale, serving as a key staffer in a national organization serving runaway and homeless youth, and growing the...

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Legislative Connection

NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL… January 15, 2014 – Governor Scott, good job.  This plaudit comes in response to the latest news from Scott’s office regarding his proposed budget for the Department of Children & Families.  An increase of about $40-million would fund 400 new investigator positions thereby reducing caseloads to no more than 10 per investigator, provide for two person investigative teams for very young children (under four years of age) in families with known histories of domestic violence, substance abuse, or mental health crises, and $8-million to boost the budgets of Sheriff’s Departments with primary responsibility for investigations in...

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