A Comprehensive Trauma Informed System of Care Necessary to Address the Needs of Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth

This presentation describes a specialized, trauma-informed system of care that has been implemented in Miami-Dade County, Florida to meet the needs of child welfare involved youth who have been commercially sexually exploited. This system of care includes three key components: 1) GRACE Court, 2) The Miami CARES Project, 3) The CHANCE program, and 4) The Survivor Empowerment Program. Key components of these programs will be described, including a panel discussion about the benefits of this collaboration and integration for the youth.


Outline/Structure of the Workshop

The State of Florida has recent legislation and emergent initiatives to address human trafficking. Miami Dade County led many of these initiatives, including, identifying that the court system can play a crucial role in not only identifying victims of sex trafficking but linking them to services. It is for this reason, that the 11th Circuit Court has established an administrative order, designating a court to specialize in helping these youth. The Miami-Dade County Human Trafficking Court was established on March 4, 2015. The mission of the Human Trafficking Court which will also be known as G.R.A.C.E Court (Growth Renewed Through Acceptance, Change, and Empowerment) is to serve the victimization of young girls and boys who are involved in modern day slavery by giving the young girls and boys the services they need to recover from the life they have been exposed to.

The Miami Care Project is a key component of the G.R.A.C.E. Court. The Miami Cares project was established in 2014 as a clear multi-system organizing body to ensure that efforts to address human trafficking within Miami Dade were not duplicative, and those responses were aligned and coordinated. In G.R.A.C.E. Court, Miami Care emphasizes increased collaboration, strategic coordination of services, and cross-system infrastructure building. 

Children in G.R.A.C.E. Court are referred to the Citrus Helping Adolescents Negatively Impacted by Commercial Exploitation (CHANCE) for residential placement and/or treatment services. The CHANCE is a pilot treatment program being implemented in Miami-Dade County, Florida in partnership with the Department of Children and Families and the local child welfare agency, to address the unique behavioral health needs of these youth. The CHANCE program is based on the premise that a single model of residential care and treatment will not serve the varying needs of children who have experienced the trauma of commercial sexual exploitation. Rather, the appropriate level of long-term treatment should be determined by a comprehensive assessment to identify the unique needs and level of care required. While some children may require a secure residential facility to meet their needs, other children may be able to benefit from community placements and appropriately transition to specialized treatment in the community. The program proposes that victims of commercial sexual exploitation may best be served in a normalized family environment with intense clinical services and supports if they are receptive to treatment services and intervention. Thus, the program incorporates a range of placement and service options based on the specific identified needs of the youth, which include: Statewide Inpatient Psychiatric Program, Specialized Therapeutic Foster Care (STFC), or an in-home Community Response Team.

Youth in G.R.A.C.E. Court are also assigned a Survivor Mentor to engage and connect with current victims. Survivors Mentor serve both an educational and mentoring role during the entire CSEC prevention, intervention and treatment process. They act as support systems for the children as they are needed and they will be available for advice and consultation.

Learning Outcome

Learning objectives:


  1. Participants will learn about the importance of trauma informed care and services for commercially sexually exploited youth.
  2. Participants will be able to describe characteristics of the key programs in this comprehensive system of care developed to meet the needs of commercially sexually exploited youth.
  3.  Participants will learn about the benefits of a comprehensive community system to address the needs of commercially sexually exploited youth.


Target Audience

Clinical, Child Welfare, Policy,Legal, GAL, Judiciary

schedule Submitted 7 years ago