- Douglas County
Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $930,876)
This project seeks to better understand and meet the needs of system-involved missing, runaway, and sex trafficked (MAR/T) youth, specifically girls of color. Douglas County, Nebraska is a thriving metropolitan area in the heart of America. Members of minority groups living in the eastern areas of Douglas County make up the largest percentage of MAR/T youth, as well as youth within the Douglas County juvenile justice system. Given the link between a youth’s history of running away and future juvenile justice system involvement and/or sex trafficking, resources are needed to target the specific needs of system-involved missing/runaway girls to prevent further, and more extensive, involvement with sex trafficking and the juvenile justice system
During calendar year 2021, Douglas County data shows that girls accounted for 64% of the youth served by the Missing Youth Services (MYS) (n=66 of 103). In addition, among those youth for whom race/ethnicity was reported (n=92), youth of color accounted for nearly three-quarters of the total population served by MYS: 29.3% were African American, 37.0% were Hispanic, 28.3% were white; 2.2% were Native American, and 3.3% identified as more than one race. Furthermore, on average, the Omaha Police Department (OPD) completes 80-100 reports on missing and runaway youth each month; approximately 20% of these youth have been trafficked. Girls of color were similarly overrepresented among this population (76%).
The proposed project will expand Douglas County’s ability to establish strategies that will strength victim service programs to support victim-centered, trauma-informed, developmentally appropriate, evidence-based responses to minor victims of sex trafficking. Specifically, funds from this grant will be used to respond strategically to (1) fund Project Harmony’s Director of Missing and Anti-Trafficking Youth Services, (2) sponsor a short-term stabilization bed for trafficked girls, and (3) increase the access of MAR/T girls and their families to legal advocacy and educational assistance through the Educational Rights Counsel. Given the known demographics of the MAR/T girls in our community, Douglas County is requesting priority consideration in support of Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, to increase the access to services for MAR/T girls from underserved and historically marginalized populations.