The primary focus of Project NO REST during its first year of operation was the development of a comprehensive plan to address the trafficking of youth age 25 and younger in North Carolina, with an emphasis on youth who are involved with the child welfare system. The plan addresses labor trafficking as well as the commercial sexual exploitation of children and youth, both of which are addressed in the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). Sex trafficking is defined as an activity in which a “commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion,” or when the person performing the act is under 18 (US Department of State, 2015). Labor trafficking is the “recruitment, harboring, transportation…of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion” (US Department of State, 2015).
A primary focus of the plan is to use a trauma-informed approach in dealing with youth who may have been trafficked. The intent of the plan is to address the trauma youth experienced while being trafficked, to minimize the trauma they experience in leaving trafficking, and to assess the trauma they may have experienced before being trafficked. The trauma-informed approach includes activities for outreach, screening, and ongoing services, as well as the provision of prevention services.
We used a systems approach in developing this plan. We sought to achieve a balance across activities and not to focus on one set of efforts over others. In order to do that, we created six workgroups to develop various aspects of the plan. These workgroups are: Prevention, Youth Engagement and Outreach, Screening and Intake, Services and Practices, Funding, and Data and Evaluation. Membership in each workgroup was drawn from an array of agencies and organizations. Some individuals served on multiple workgroups. A governance Steering Committee was created to guide and oversee the activities of the workgroups. Each workgroup was chaired or co-chaired by individuals who also served on the Steering Committee.
The Steering Committee was composed of more than two dozen individuals who represent an array of agencies and organizations that have a role in addressing human trafficking. These include the NC Association of Chiefs of Police, child advocacy centers, the Conference of District Attorneys, county departments of social services, Family and Youth Service Bureau grantees, the Governor’s Crime Commission, the Division of Juvenile Justice and Adult Correction, the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) Court Improvement Project, the AOC Guardian Ad Litem program, the NC Human Trafficking Commission, the Department of Public Instruction, the Division of Medical Assistance, the Division of Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/ Substance Abuse Services, the Division of Public Health, the Division of Social Services, the NC Coalition Against Human Trafficking, the NC Council for Women, the NC Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Partners Against Trafficking Humans in NC, Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, SAYSO (an advocacy group for foster care youth), an immigrant/refugee rights advocate, and a county Assistant District Attorney.
The Prevention Workgroup focused on identifying risk factors for child trafficking. The workgroup focused on documenting best practices and model policies to prevent trafficking, and developed recommendations to enhance current state and local policies. The workgroup also crafted strategies to increase public awareness of child trafficking risk factors and addressed approaches to engage youth at risk of being trafficked. Additionally, the workgroup identified primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention activities.
The Youth Engagement and Outreach Workgroup was tasked with identifying ways to engage youth who are being trafficked as well those who are trying to leave trafficking. The workgroup identified strategies for outreach and engagement that might occur outside traditional helping organizations. One focus of the workgroup was to determine what message should be delivered to these youth and how that message should be delivered. The workgroup explored the use of intermediaries—such as law enforcement agencies, individuals from emergency departments and health clinics, teachers, counselors, school social workers, and other individuals who routinely are in contact with a large number of youth—to engage youth who may be trafficked. The workgroup also supports the efforts of Capitol Broadcasting’s Fox 50 in Raleigh to develop and implement a public awareness campaign to raise the awareness of trafficking and to provide information for youth who have been trafficked on where to go for services.
The Screening and Intake Workgroup developed approaches for the initial interview of potential human trafficking victims. Using policies and procedures similar to those followed in child advocacy centers, the workgroup created a model of collaborative fact-gathering among law enforcement, county departments of social services, guardians, and the courts. The workgroup also identified a process for providing initial assessments of immediate physical, dental, and behavioral health needs as well as long-term needs. The plan will be enhanced over time to clearly articulate ways to provide these services and to propose guidelines for providing them in a trauma-informed manner.
The Services and Practices Workgroup identified procedures and models for connecting trafficked youth with a safe and secure place to live and heal as they transition to independent living. The workgroup identified ways to connect youth to needed therapeutic and medical services. The workgroup also identified an array of services that youth may need, including life skills, financial literacy, and employment and training, and also identified ways to connect the youth to postsecondary education. Future enhancements to the plan will articulate standards for the types of services that should be provided.
The Funding Workgroup explored ways to fund the services and activities recommended by the other workgroups. As part of their work, members of this workgroup catalogued public and private funding sources that currently support or could support recommended service components. They recommended funding strategies and models to support efforts to reduce trafficking. They identified ways to support public-private partnerships as well as one-time and ongoing support. The workgroup also developed a matrix of current and potential investments in anti-trafficking efforts.
The Data and Evaluation Workgroup inventoried and analyzed current data sources that contain information on youth who are being trafficked, especially those who are involved with the child welfare system. The workgroup explored approaches to develop valid and reliable estimates of the number of youth who have been trafficked. The workgroup also established criteria for collecting data for the identification, screening, and assessment of trafficking victims and evaluating anti-trafficking programs.
You can obtain a copy of the plan here: https://app.box.com/s/oya7og57zosnd0uitc0z1wm09aoptoib