Credit to the artist: G.R.A.C.E. Court logo designed by: Andrea Junco and Tania Smith, School for Advanced Studies
In July 2015, the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida successfully launched G.R.A.C.E. Court – Growth Renewed through Acceptance, Change and Empowerment. According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), G.R.A.C.E. Court is the first specialized court in the nation devoted to the needs of children who have been identified as victims of commercial sexual exploitation and labor trafficking.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) reports that Florida is third in the nation in highest call volumes to the Center, behind California and Texas.1 Nationally the NHTH identified 23,078 human trafficking survivors, and 10,949 human trafficking cases. From the identified human trafficking survivors, 4,945 were minors. The NHTH received 767 reported cases of human trafficking, resulting in 149 cases involving minors in Florida during 2018.2
As awareness continues to grow for human trafficking, G.R.A.C.E. Court continues to serve this population by referring families and children to local service providers including, Kristi House, Kristi House-Project Gold, and Citrus Health CHANCE Program, which are able to provide direct, trauma-informed treatment and services for this vulnerable population.
In addition to these services, G.R.A.C.E. Court integrates local court partners including the Department of Children and Families, Office of the State Attorney, Office of the Public Defender, Miami-Dade Police Department, Miami-Dade County Juvenile Services Department, Department of Juvenile Justice, Guardian ad Litem, and Attorney ad Litems to provide minors with legal representation at every court proceeding. In G.R.A.C.E. Court a minor have a team of attorneys and child welfare professional working collaboratively with the minor and the family to determine the best course of action for them during the healing and rehabilitation process.
The Honorable Angelica D. Zayas currently presides over G.R.A.C.E. Court, and continues the G.R.A.C.E. Court mission of reducing stigma and shame surrounding human trafficking while empowering young people and their families to see themselves in a position of strength and growth.