Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,500,000)
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) requests $1,500,000 to support a project under the FY22 Improving Outcomes for Child and Youth Victims of Human Trafficking program. The project title is Minnesota’s Safe Harbor Expansion to Improve Outcomes for Trafficked Children and Youth Project. This opportunity provides MDH, through its Safe Harbor program, and its partners, with the means to confront some of the most significant challenges presented by sex and labor trafficking in the state. Instilled with survivor engagement, the project proposal includes three components:
Embedding a victim advocate (VA) within the MN Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force (MNHTITF) and Predatory Crimes Section (PCS) of the MN Department of Public Safety (DPS) Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) to support a trauma-informed approach and improve collaboration with SH services;
Partnering with Tribal Nations (TN), the new first-in-the-nation Office on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (OMMIR) in the DPS Office of Justice Programs (OJP), and urban American Indian (AI) nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to bolster culturally specific regional navigators and victim services, build relationships with social services, Tribal police departments, and communities, and coordinate when trafficked youth are missing or murdered; and
Facilitating communication and coordination responses across Minnesota state agencies to increase shared responsibility for a unified statewide effort to address human trafficking.
MDH received FY16 and FY19 grants in this funding category. The state has made significant progress under the grants, as described in the narrative. However, challenges remain requiring multi-sector responses to serve victims, investigate cases, and support youth who are highest risk for harm from sex and labor trafficking.
MDH has a total of 16 partners in this project, including state agencies, law enforcement, child welfare, nongovernmental organizations, and Tribal Nations. Among these partners are three urban-based programs serving AI youth as well as two survivor-led and -focused NGOs. In addition, the MDH Safe Harbor network, with its regional navigators and services programs statewide, will provide many additional partners. OVC funds are requested to embed a victim advocate with the MNHTITF, strengthen the Tribal and multijurisdictional response to support AI youth, and coordinate efforts across Minnesota’s state agencies.
The goals of this project are increased access to services, improved coordination with law enforcement and child welfare, earlier identification of victims, and enhanced cultural responsiveness. These goals will support better outcomes for children and youth, bolster investigation and prosecution, and inform evaluation and research.
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