Press Release

CareSource hosts human trafficking summit to overcome barriers

December 8th, 2023 | 5 min read

Transformative event unites trailblazers to empower survivors

FORT MYERS, FL (December 8, 2023) -- CareSource, a nationally recognized managed care organization, convened more than 100 community leaders at the Overcoming Barriers to Empower Trafficking Victims Summit yesterday at St. Hilary’s Episcopal Church. This powerful all-day event addressed the complex barriers trafficking survivors face on their journey to healing by spawning conversation, providing insights, and sharing testimony among attorneys, law enforcement personnel, healthcare professionals, social workers, advocates and other community leaders eager to combat the human trafficking crisis in Southwest Florida and beyond.

Florida is the third highest state for human trafficking according to the Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking. Further, 2 out of 10 children experience sexual victimization by the time they reach the age of 18. CareSource recognizes the critical role it plays in breaking the cycle of crisis and instability. Human trafficking is a public health issue and crime that affects individuals, families and communities across generations.

“We’re often asked why CareSource, as a managed health care organization, would advocate for survivors," said Lisa Lucchesi, national human trafficking project Manager at CareSource. “With 88% of survivors reporting that they’ve interacted with health care providers while being trafficked -- without receiving appropriate interventions or referrals-- we feel compelled to join this fight against human trafficking.”

CareSource partners with organizations to strengthen anti-trafficking efforts. Impacted survivors deserve the best treatment available to begin their healing journey. To break the cycle of crisis and instability, CareSource collaborates with outside organizations and agencies to ensure individuals are appropriately assessed by and discharged from care facilities with strong support. Additionally, CareSource forms collaborative partnerships as part of the community's response to help prevent human trafficking.

The summit, uniquely tailored to address the Fort Myers community's challenges, featured an esteemed panel of speakers, each bringing a unique perspective and expertise to the discussion. These experts engaged constructively on understanding survivor challenges, expanding empathy, coordinating solutions and establishing best practices locally and nationwide for supporting survivors after trafficking.

 "We must stand as advocates for those who cannot speak for themselves," said Sue Aboul-Hosn, regional human trafficking coordinator at Florida Department of Children and Families. "Across Florida, minors are enduring exploitation, and our goal extends beyond facilitating their escape from an unwanted life. We aspire to provide a pillar of support. Today's summit exemplifies a remarkable community collaboration to surround survivors through their complex healing journey.”

“It takes a united effort to break the chains of exploitation and empower survivors to reclaim their lives. Through partnerships and shared initiatives, we can build a resilient network of support for those on the journey to healing,” said Selah Freedom, an anti-human trafficking nonprofit. “Together, we are a powerful force against human trafficking, and I’m thankful to CareSource for facilitating a summit with this caliber of participants.”

Speakers who shared insights at the CareSource Overcoming Barriers to Empower Trafficking Victims Summit:

  • Meghan Connors, Survivor-leader and advocate
    • Spoke on her own experiences with chronic health issues and ways we can advocate for survivors in the health care setting.
  • Lt. Wade Williams, Collier County Sheriff’s Office
    • Shared case studies of trafficking cases in Florida and ways the multidisciplinary team worked together to investigate.
  • Heidi Olson, Certified Pediatric Nurse and Certified Pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner
    • Discussed how the trauma that survivors experience often manifests as chronic and debilitating illness.
  • Neil Getzlow, Author and Founder of The Gideon Factor Ministry
    • Shared his story as a former sex buyer and his recovery journey.
  • Laura J. Lederer, President of Global Centurion
    • Included findings and ways that health plans can assist survivors through her groundbreaking research with trafficking survivors and their experiences in health care.
  • Connie Rose, Founder of Victims2Survivors-US
    • Spoke on her lived experiences as well as trends in Florida, barriers that survivors face in seeking services, and what the biggest needs are in the state currently.
  • Sue Aboul-Hosn, Regional Human Trafficking Coordinator at Florida Department of Children and Families
    • Shared unique perspective in working with children who are in foster care and the trends she’s seen with this population related to exploitation and trafficking.
  • Jodi Domangue, Executive Director of Anti-Trafficking at One More Child
    • Highlighted front-line work that One More Child is doing with trafficking victims in Florida, including the trends, barriers, and successes they are currently seeing.
  • Lisa Lucchesi, Human Trafficking Subject Matter Expert at CareSource
    • Closed out the summit by tying together the trends, barriers and successes seen in Florida and ways CareSource can come alongside these organizations and agencies to support their work and empower survivors.

CareSource is deeply committed to driving progress, improving trauma-informed community support and empowering survivors with the tools they need to reclaim their futures. This is one of many summits CareSource has hosted across the country, including a Human Trafficking roundtable led by Governor and First Lady Kemp in Georgia. Looking ahead, CareSource remains committed to forging new partnerships, fostering resilience and championing innovative solutions that create lasting positive change for survivors of trauma in communities in Fort Myers and nationwide.

CareSource Human Trafficking Summit

CareSource convened more than 100 community leaders at the Overcoming Barriers to Empower Trafficking Victims Summit Thursday, December 7, 2023 at St. Hilary’s Episcopal Church in Florida. (Photo; CareSource)