Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $997,348)
While Connecticut state statute prohibits the criminalization of minors under 18 for prostitution offenses, children continue to be criminalized for status offenses, misdemeanors, and felonies committed as a result of their sex trafficking victimization (SHI 2021). Despite growing recognition of the need for alternatives to arrest and detention among stakeholders in Connecticut, challenges remain. Even when youth are appropriately identified, the state lacks a sufficient amount of specialized services to meet their needs. A lack of specialized services, combined with a persistent perception among some within the criminal justice system that in order to keep these youth safe the state must lock them up, significantly hinders Connecticut’s ability to address the criminalization of minor victims. It is within this context that Love146 seeks to expand its Connecticut Survivor Care Program, a field-generated model developed to meet the unique needs of the Connecticut landscape statewide, so that minor victims of sex trafficking throughout Connecticut are able to access the victim-centered, trauma-informed, culturally responsive, and developmentally appropriate services they need in order to reduce their risk for criminal justice involvement.
As the primary provider of specialized services for child trafficking survivors in Connecticut, Love146 is well-positioned to meet the identified needs outlined above and address the criminalization of minor victims of sex trafficking in the state. For the proposed project, Love146 will 1) meet the individual needs of and provide essential services to minor victims of sex trafficking through the provision of Rapid Responses and Long-Term Services; 2) collaborate with local and state partners through participation in MDTs, the CTCAT, HART, and other coordinated efforts to ensure minor victims of sex trafficking are properly identified, responded to, and provided with appropriate services; 3) collaborate with local and state partners through the TIP Council and the RHTRT to change the practice of arrests, detention, and confinement for offenses related to trafficking exploitation; 4) collect data and participate in assessment activities to determine if the program is meeting stated goals and objectives; and 5) participate in an annual peer-to-peer learning opportunity hosted by the OVC-funded training and technical assistance provider. The proposed project meets the criteria for priority consideration under priority area A.