UPDATE, NOVEMBER 29, 2022: The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has just published a searing series of stories about sex-trafficking, including one about how foster care in general, and group homes in particular, increase the risk that children will be trafficked. The story reveals that, sure enough, the Florida Department of Children and Families took the "presents for pimps" loophole, and drove a truck through it. See the excerpt from the story at the end of this post
UPDATE, NOVEMBER 29, 2022: Now, six years after the above was written, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reveals how Florida exploited the “presents for pimps” loophole. From their story:
The state created group homes for children who are at
risk of being trafficked — and defined that broadly. Under the state’s new
definition, a child is considered at risk if he or she “has experienced trauma”
and has run away, been sexually abused, was exposed to human trafficking, moved
repeatedly within foster care, or interacted inappropriately with other people
or on social media.
Florida’s Children First, a Coral Springs foster child
advocacy group, opposed the state’s change, arguing that the definition is so
broad it could apply to more than half of the state’s foster kids.
As of July, 150 group homes in Florida’s foster care
system are for these at-risk children, Walthall said.
DCF’s McManus said many were regular group homes that
“implemented enhanced training of staff to better provide trauma informed care
and protect those who are more vulnerable or at risk of trafficking.”
Robin Rosenberg, deputy director of Florida’s Children
First, said the number of kids in group homes would be much lower if at-risk
group homes hadn’t been created.
“The bottom line is Florida relied heavily on federal
funds to pay for kids in group homes,” she said. “And when they saw that that
source was going to dry up they had to come up with a way that they could keep
putting kids in group homes.”
The state doesn’t have an accurate tool for determining
which children have been trafficked or are at risk. The screening tool used by
the state since 2016 has flunked repeated efforts to validate its accuracy, the
DCF’s own reports say.
But it continues to be used today.