MIAMI, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott highlighted efforts to fight human trafficking in the Florida First budget, including $6.8 million for safe homes and service providers across the state for victims of human trafficking and other services. Governor Scott also highlighted an additional $2.3 million for the PACE Center for Girls to fund an after school program and provide more than 60 additional girls with the opportunity to join PACE. The PACE Center is one of the nation’s most effective programs for preventing vulnerable girls from being trafficked by providing transition and academic based services.

Two of the seven safe homes receiving funding are located in Miami:

  • Camillus House (Miami) – $500,000
  • Kristi House (Miami) – $200,000
  • Bridging Freedom (Tampa) – $1.2 million
  • Florida Dream Center (St. Petersburg) – $250,000
  • Selah Freedom (Sarasota) – $1 million
  • Devereux, Inc. (Orlando) – $359,000
  • Place of Hope (West Palm Beach) – $200,000
  • Voices for Freedom; Open Doors (Statewide) – $3.1 million

Governor Rick Scott said, “It is important that we support great organizations like the PACE Center for Girls and other prevention providers and safe homes across the state which partner with our law enforcement in efforts to fight human trafficking. That is why this year we have provided more than $6 million toward safe homes across Florida and an additional $2 million for the PACE Center in the Florida First budget. I am proud to support Florida’s dedicated advocates who work tirelessly to make sure our most vulnerable are protected. I also want to thank Attorney General Pam Bondi for her hard work to fight human trafficking in our state.”

Attorney General Pam Bondi said, “We must do everything in our power to protect human trafficking victims and ensure resources are available to help them recover. I want to thank Governor Scott for providing millions this year to enhance resources and care options for victims of this horrendous crime.”

Governor Scott also recently signed legislation which establishes harsher penalties for human traffickers and protects victimized children from being convicted for criminal charges. To view the full announcement on HB 545, click HERE.

Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll said, “Florida has emerged as a national leader for our progress in responding to the needs of human trafficking victims, especially juveniles. Through collaboration at the community level, we are building a realistic and robust system of care that will truly help young victims rebuild their lives and help Florida continue to strengthen the fight against this heinous crime.”

Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Christina Daly said, “I am grateful for the unwavering commitment Governor Scott has shown in the fight to end human trafficking in our state. Thanks to his leadership and the support of the Legislature we will continue to work together to combat this horrific crime to not only protect our most vulnerable populations but ensure that Florida is a safer place for us all.”

This year, the Florida First budget invested a total of more than $19 million in PACE Centers across Florida. The PACE Center for Girls began more than 30 years ago in Jacksonville and now operates 19 centers throughout Florida. The organization serves more than 2,300 girls every year, with 121 in Miami. Because of their help, juvenile female arrests dropped by over forty percent just last year. Later this year, PACE will partner with DJJ and DCF to implement Florida’s human trafficking screening tool to better identify potential victims.

Sherry Giordano, Executive Director, PACE Center for Girls of Miami, said, “We want to sincerely thank Governor Scott and our legislative leaders for their support and providing an additional $2 million for our organization this year to help us better serve the young women in our community. We are committed to making sure every young woman has the opportunity to get an education and pursue their dreams. This funding will help even more girls do just that.”

Elizabeth Melendez Fisher, President and CEO, Selah Freedom said, “We are so thankful for leaders like Governor Scott who have joined us in the fight against human trafficking. This funding is important to many organizations across Florida like Selah Freedom so victims can be rescued and experience restoration.”

Laura Hamilton, Founder and President, Bridging Freedom, said, “This additional funding helps advocates across the state to fight human trafficking and ensure this evil that targets our pre-teens continues to decrease in our state. On behalf of Bridging Freedom, I want to sincerely thank Governor Scott for providing more than $6 million to help protect our children from exploitation and to bring healing, hope and purpose for those rescued from buyers and traffickers.”

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