Southern California Program
Coalition to Abolish Slavery
Civic and Community
Los Angeles, CA
In Los Angeles County, three-quarters of commercially sexually exploited children have been or are currently in the foster care system. Current approaches involving arrests and mandatory diversion programs have been ineffective in extracting these young victims from their pimps, leading to high rates of recidivism. As a pioneer in the field of human trafficking, Coalition to Abolish Slavery (CAST) is working with law enforcement to collectively address the needs of victims who when well supported through the healing process can serve as effective witnesses in the prosecution of their perpetrators. CAST’s training of frontline police officers, social workers and service providers has heightened awareness about this population and calls to its hotline from victims seeking help have quadrupled in the past year. In response, CAST is piloting a community-based approach to identify, refer and serve exploited youth up to age 24 before they become “system-involved” or face criminal charges. In partnership with nine service providers, different approaches will be tried to build the trust necessary to engage youth in their own healing process and gain a deeper understanding of what works in order for youth to leave their traffickers. Youth who have been trafficked and are ready to engage in services will receive comprehensive, coordinated care by a CAST case manager. Data will be collected on the origination of the referral and if prior youth participation in services was voluntary or mandated; survivor’s age when first trafficked, socio-economic status, education level, number of arrests; and number and type of service interventions. The resulting data will be correlated with survivor outcomes to establish a baseline and determine the optimal combination of interventions that reduces recidivism and improves long-term outcomes for young victims. CAST anticipates serving 100 exploited children in South Los Angeles and will refine and expand the pilot to 20 more youth in the San Fernando Valley. Both communities are locations where sex trafficking is prevalent. A two-year W. M. Keck Foundation grant will support a program manager to train and coordinate services among the partners and oversee data collection and the evaluation.
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