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Coast to Coast Legal Aid lands federal human trafficking grant

Senior Editor Top Stories

Civil legal aidCoast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida has landed a major federal grant, and that’s good news for Broward County human trafficking survivors.

CCLA will use the $349,995 award from the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs to provide “critical, trauma-informed” legal services to survivors, Victoria Sexton, a South Florida attorney who represents survivors, said in a statement.

“CCLA is the only program in Broward County that ensures access to the legal system for survivors of human trafficking,” Sexton said. “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.”

Figures from the National Human Trafficking Hotline show that Florida ranks third in the country with 1,887 victims identified and 896 independent cases reported in 2019. Florida trafficking cases more than doubled in recent years, from 418 in 2015 to 896 in 2019.

Over the past two years, CCLA has provided legal services to victims and survivors through its Representation, Information, Guidance for Human Trafficking Survivors (RIGHTS) project, which was created by Sexton when she was a Florida Bar Foundation Equal Justice Works Fellow, according to the statement.

Previously through the RIGHTS project, and now through the Human Trafficking Survivors Program, CCLA helps human trafficking victims with expungements, name changes, civil injunctions for protection, and family law matters. The program is designed to help victims recover their independence, self-sufficiency, and well being while protecting their safety, according to the organization.

The Office of Justice Programs announced in December 2021 that almost $87 million in funding would go to combat human trafficking and provide supportive services to victims throughout the U.S. and conduct research into the nature and causes of labor and sex trafficking.

CCLA is a not-for-profit law firm established in 2003 and funded, in part, by the Legal Services Corporation. Its mission is to improve the lives of low-income persons in the community through advocacy, education, representation, and empowerment.

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