Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,475,324)
Maryland Governor's Office of Crime Prevention, Youth and Victim Services (Office), in partnership with the University of Maryland School of Social Works, Prevention of Adolescent Risks Initiative (UMSSW) proposes this initiative to establish a strategic, comprehensive approach to improving outcomes for child and youth victims of human trafficking in Maryland. Youth Trafficked in Maryland through commercial sex or forced labor face enormous barrier to exiting exploitative situations and have few resources to assist them afterwards. After nearly a decade of work in Maryland to address human trafficking, there is still work to be done.
In response to the issue of human trafficking and the needs of our state, this proposal aims to develop a statewide strategy which leverages existing victim services, child welfare and juvenile services efforts against human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. The project has three specific goals to achieve this aim. The first goal is to enhance training and technical assistance for the Maryland Regional Navigator Program (RNPG). Developed as part of the Child Sex Trafficking and Screening and Services Act of 2019, the RNPG is the designated regional coordinator in each jurisdiction of the state for high-risk and trafficked youth. The Office is responsible for managing the application process, funding and oversight. UMSSW has served as the TTA provider for the first 10 regional navigators and will expand and enhance this as the remaining 14 counties are funded. Next, we propose to implement a child welfare and regional navigator response to child labor trafficking. This builds on work being done between the child welfare system and the RNPGs in response to child sex trafficking, as well as work in the state to address child labor trafficking. Finally, this initiative proposes to develop a comprehensive, coordinated, and unified statewide training strategy for professionals which includes victim-centered and trauma-informed best practices for handling human trafficking cases involving children and youth. This 36-month project will build a multi-disciplinary response infrastructure, train thousands of key professionals, and ensure victims have access to an array of comprehensive, high-quality services. Each of the initiative's goals and activities comprise a key component of a comprehensive state-wide plan to improve the ability for child and youth survivors to heal and rebuild their lives.