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Justice Department Awards Nearly $350k to Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida

Justice Department Awards Nearly $350k to Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida for Victims of Human Trafficking

On February 17, 2022 Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida (CCLA) announced it has received a grant from The Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) in the amount of $349,995. With only four of these grants awarded nationwide, CCLA will use the funds as part of a 3-year grant through the Human Trafficking Survivors Program to provide critical, trauma-informed legal services to victims of human trafficking in Broward County. This will ensure survivors are provided with equal access to the justice system.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH), Florida ranks third in the country with 1,887 victims identified and 896 independent cases reported in 2019. In recent years, the number of Florida trafficking cases reported to the NHTH more than doubled from 418 in 2015 to 896 in 2019.

To fill the need for victims of human trafficking, over the past two years, CCLA has provided critical, supportive legal services to victims and survivors of human trafficking through their Representation, Information, Guidance for Human Trafficking Survivors (RIGHTS) project. This project was created by Victoria Sexton, Esq. when she was a Florida Bar Foundation Equal Justice Works Fellow.

Previously through the RIGHTS project, and now through the Human Trafficking Survivors Program, CCLA provides civil legal services to victims of human trafficking such as expungements, name changes, civil injunctions for protection, and family law matters. The Program provides meaningful access to the legal system through holistic, trauma-informed legal services and directly assists survivors of human trafficking to achieve the ultimate goal of increased safety, independence, self-sufficiency, and well-being in their lives.

“CCLA is the only program in Broward County that ensures access to the legal system for survivors of human trafficking”, said Victoria Sexton, Esq. “We recognize the need to continue and expand services to survivors. Human trafficking numbers continue to increase. This funding will help fill the gap in services needed for survivors in Broward County.”

The Justice Department’s OJP announced in December 2021 that almost $87 million in funding will go to combat human trafficking, provide supportive services to victims of human trafficking throughout the United States, and conduct research into the nature and causes of labor and sex trafficking. OJP’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) strengthens the victim service response to human trafficking through grant funding, training and technical assistance and leadership in the field.

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