Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $1,119,713)
Ohio is proposing a statewide strategy to address the gaps in the state’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Currently, child victims of labor trafficking are under-identified and under-served, Ohio’s safe harbor legal protections are under-utilized by juvenile courts, and many public children services agencies do not have the expertise or infrastructure to identify human trafficking.
The proposal includes three primary objectives. The first is to train communities to respond to labor trafficking of youth. Ohio’s county-administered system requires state-level leadership and local buy-in to increase knowledge of labor trafficking. Therefore, the proposal leverages partnerships through the Governor’s Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, including with survivors, state agencies, and nonprofits to provide county-level training to juvenile courts, children services agencies, and other child-serving professionals throughout Ohio.
The second objective is to expand the use of safe harbor legal protections among juvenile courts. The project will provide trainings to county juvenile courts on safe harbor implementation, facilitated by a team including a survivor, attorney, juvenile justice expert, and personnel from juvenile courts experienced in implementing human trafficking protocols. Additionally, the project will fund three juvenile courts to develop and implement human trafficking protocols regarding assessment, service provision, court supervision, and disposition. The project will fund a new strategically selected county juvenile court with no existing human trafficking protocols and the two courts funded by the FY 20 iteration of the grant to improve upon newly built protocols and to provide technical assistance to surrounding counties.
The third objective is to build capacity of the child welfare system to identify and serve child victims of human trafficking. The project will fund a Children Services Human Trafficking Coordinator, a new position within the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, to develop state-level policy that applies to county children services practice, educate state-level training units to train public children services agencies, and reduce barriers to state-administered public assistance for foreign national child victims of trafficking.
This multi-prong approach is intended to improve the capacity of child-serving professionals to identify and respond to labor trafficking, leading to increased immediate access to supportive services for survivors.
The project will partner with six subgrantees, all of whom would collaboratively work with the Office of Criminal Justice Services to implement the proposed strategy. Subgrantees will include the Ohio Department of Youth Services, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Advocating Opportunity, and three county juvenile courts.