- Summit County
- Medina County
Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $399,084)
The Summit & Medina County Minor Victims of Sex Trafficking Prevention and Decriminalization Project will enhance the existing anti-human trafficking work to scale up partnerships to prioritize prevention of at-risk minors, as well as the identification of minors who are victims of sex trafficking. In addition to the existing service provisions for victims of trafficking provided by RCC and BWS, the Project will prioritize reaching minor victims of sex trafficking who more accurately represent the population impacted by the crime, including reaching youth before they are justice-involved, homeless and runaway youth, youth presenting with sexual assaults/abuse through the RCC hotline, and those who are in shelter due to their family history of domestic or intimate partner violence.
A key component to the program will be implementing an effective, user-friendly screening tool, widely utilized by partner organizations, to identify victims of trafficking as well as high-risk minors. This will create to create a pathway to services and support that will be adopted by organizations who have contact with youth at risk of trafficking, especially schools, children’s protective services, and hospitals, as well as the juvenile courts. Service provision by RCC and BWS will be ongoing, which combined with the broader anti-trafficking collaborative, meet key immediate, short-term, and long-term supports for victims of trafficking, regardless of sex, age, immigration status, mental health, or other status of the victim.
Finally, the program will decriminalize minor victims of sex trafficking through the ongoing partnership with local law enforcement to increase referrals to services in lieu of arresting youth for activities indicative of sex trafficking (i.e., prostitution, truancy, etc.). Currently, the Summit County Juvenile Court runs a specialized docket called Restore Court, for youth victims of trafficking. This Project seeks to develop policies that will prioritize prevention before arrest, but RESTORE Court is an excellent partner to identify youth once they land in the court system. RCC currently provides therapy to youth identified through RESTORE Court. Implementing these programmatic elements will further the goals of RCC, BWS, and the Summit County Collaborative Against Human Trafficking to successfully prevent the trafficking of minors before they reach the juvenile court system, as well as decriminalize those who do encounter criminal justice system.