Kristi House has been awarded $1 million grant for program

By Lee Stephens….
Kristi House has been awarded $1 million in grant support for its program for girls who have been sexually exploited and trafficked in the sex trade.

Kristi House’s Project GOLD was one of 10 projects chosen in the country in the highly competitive 2011 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Local Funding Partnerships program. RWJF awarded Kristi House a half million dollars that has been matched onefor- one by local private funders. These funds will go toward supporting services for girls ages 11 to 18 who are being bought and sold in the commercial sex industry. Most are living dangerous lives on the streets and are under the control of pimps and traffickers. Support will enable Kristi House to staff a drop-in center and emergency shelter, planned for an early 2012 opening.

“Many people are shocked to learn that children — domestic children — are being bought and sold for sex, with the average age of adolescents entering prostitution at 12 to 14 years old,” said Kristi House executive director Trudy Novicki.

“Most people think it’s a foreign problem and can’t believe it’s happening to children in their own communities,” she added.

“These children have suffered unspeakable trauma and are not ‘bad kids.’ They have not chosen degrading, dangerous lives,” said Wansley Walters, secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. “Kristi House is leading the way in changing how we view these victims, and developing a model for our state and country for treatment and recovery.”

Project GOLD was nominated for the RWJF grant by Women’s Fund of Miami- Dade Inc. Local funding partners also include Palank Memorial Foundation, Allegany Franciscan Ministries, Health Foundation of South Florida, The Ware Foundation, Hugh and Eliza Culverhouse, Trish and Dan Bell, List Family Foundation and the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation.

Kristi House was selected out of 181 applicants nationwide for the highly competitive 2011 RWJF Local Funding Partnerships matching grants.

“Kristi House is a leader in the nation on this issue. They operate one of the few programs of this kind, providing a continuum of services for a very high-risk population of girls,” said Debi Harris, CEO of Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade. “Women’s Fund is proud to have been the first organization to fund Project GOLD in 2008, and we are gratified that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has recognized our nomination of Kristi House with this award. The funds will help achieve the realization of a shelter in our community for this overlooked cohort of victims.”

“Kristi House was the first Children’s Advocacy Center in the country to address the issue in a significant way and has been a leader among the 528 accredited members,” Chris Newlin, executive director of the National Children’s Advocacy Center said.

“Commercial sexual exploitation of children is no longer an unrecognized problem and many communities are now working on ways to protect them, often using the model developed at Kristi House. These children are victims, not criminals.”

Kristi House began its program in 2007 by bringing together a community-wide collaboration of law enforcement, victim advocates, social service providers, child welfare and juvenile justice specialists in Miami. Kristi House’s partnership of some 27 different agencies formed the Miami CSEC (commercial sexual exploitation of children) Working Group and has been key to Miami’s national leadership in the field, informing and guiding Project GOLD, working cases together and rescuing girls.

Kristi House is located on the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital campus at 1265 NW 12 Ave. Its south facility is located at S. Dixie Highway and 152nd Street. Founded in 1996, Kristi House has served more than 8,500 victims of child sexual abuse and their families. Thousands more are reached every year with education and prevention outreach programs.

For more information visit online at www.kristihouse.org.


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