About our Safe Home Program
Florida Baptist Children’s Homes (FBCH) is among the first to open a “safe home” program in Florida to immediately rescue and restore child victims of domestic sex trafficking.
The state organization, which is headquartered in Lakeland, has purchased property in the Central Florida area to fill a gap that is far too big according to Florida Governor Rick Scott.
In January 2013, Governor Scott signed the Florida Safe Harbor Act, a bill assuring sex trafficking victims receive help from welfare professionals instead of being treated as criminals. These victims are now assisted by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and other organizations. The Safe Harbor Act is bringing help and hope to these innocent victims, along with an urgent need for others to act on their behalf.
In March 2013, DCF asked FBCH President Jerry Haag, Ph.D., CFP® to open safe houses where these victims could find shelter, unconditional love and a safe place to begin a new life.
“We immediately knew our answer had to be yes,” said Haag. “We want to use our expertise in helping children to make a real, tangible and immediate difference in the lives of innocent girls who have been victimized in this way.”
FBCH’s safe home program is anticipated to be 9-12 months for each child, depending on her individual and specific needs. The first phase of the program will include one house on 10-15 acres of land and will be staffed by a director, licensed mental health counselor and female caregivers. Once the home is operational in 2014, the location will remain undisclosed for the protection and security of the victims. The home will include residential suites where each girl will have her own bedroom and bathroom. Also during the first phase, sex trafficking prevention and advocacy efforts will begin throughout the state. FBCH representatives will partner with law enforcement to enter schools, churches and community groups throughout Florida to prevent more girls from becoming victims of the growing sex trade.
The Florida Baptist Children’s Homes has a 110-year track record of caring for and changing the lives of children. In 2012, they served nearly 60,000 children and families through their campus, community, compassion and international programs. At their more than 18 locations in Florida and additional 10 countries in the developing world, they are taking a lead in continuing to change the lives of one more child. In 2014, through its safe homes program, FBCH and those who come beside them will boldly work to rescue and restore child victims of domestic sex trafficking physically, emotionally and spiritually. Also, through prevention efforts, FBCH will make strides to stop domestic trafficking before it starts for the next child.
For more information about FBCH’s safe home program, call (863) 687-8811.