Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $665,000)
Since 2003, the YMCA of Greater Houston’s Trafficked Persons Assistance Program has supported victims of human trafficking, regardless of their legal status, through direct client services (including housing, case management, and career development), and has raised awareness on human trafficking in the Greater Houston Area, one of the largest hubs for human trafficking in the United States, through education and community outreach. Minor victims of labor trafficking seeking its services often require educational, medical, housing, and other services which must be addressed immediately and concurrently with their legal problems. This project addresses these service gaps by having one central agency responsible for coordinating services, minimizing the risk that the minor will fail to address the complex matrix of social service and legal needs they face. Its collaborative partnerships with local, state and federal partners ensure that each client will receive trauma-informed, victim-centered support services and achieve independence, health, stability, and safety.
The YMCA’s client-centric approach addresses current gaps in services in three ways: 1) educating and empowering the client about the process and pathway to recovery; 2) ensuring all legal needs are met (either in-house or through direct referrals to partner agencies); and 3) assessing and addressing the social service needs of each client, with a focus on addressing mental health needs. This holistic approach to providing wrap-around services for its clients ensures that crime victims obtain the full realm of services available to them in the community.
The program will enhance the quality and scope of services available for minor victims of human trafficking in the Greater Houston Area (Harris, Fort Bend, Montgomery, Galveston, Waller, Brazoria, Liberty, and Chambers counties) through collaborative partnerships, increased capacity for legal representation, and by recruiting, screening, and training social work interns. Working with its existing crime victims’ programs’ management and supervision structure, project staff will receive the necessary support and assure quality services to clients. This program will develop comprehensive response protocols to ensure that all minor victims of labor trafficking are identified and referred for holistic case management services including housing, food, medical, mental health, educational, legal, and transportation.