Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $665,000)
The University of Maryland Support, Advocacy, Freedom, and Empowerment (SAFE) Center for Human Trafficking Survivors provides bilingual (Spanish/English) comprehensive legal, social, mental health, economic empowerment, and crisis intervention services to survivors of sex and labor trafficking of any age, nationality, or gender. Roughly 35% of the clients we serve are survivors of labor trafficking. As the number of unaccompanied minors continues to grow in Maryland, the SAFE Center has received increasing referrals of minors with indicators of labor trafficking. The economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic is also forcing more people into exploitative labor situations, and we are seeing more U.S. citizen victims of labor trafficking. Under this grant, the SAFE Center will provide comprehensive services to minor victims of labor trafficking in Maryland and the metropolitan Washington DC area, with a focus on Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, as well as collaborate with and train local partners to better identify and refer minor victims of labor trafficking. This is especially important as labor trafficking is historically under-identified and under-investigated. Maryland’s first state law criminalizing labor trafficking went into effect in October, 2019, and the SAFE Center has been working with our state and local human trafficking task forces to build momentum for a collaborative state-wide response to labor trafficking.