Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $950,000)
The Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking (CCAHT) proposes the current project to improve the safety, security, and healing of minors who have experienced sex or labor trafficking by increasing capacity and specialization of wraparound support services available to youth and their support system. Survivor-centered care means working with the survivor as well as the support system. This is especially crucial when working with minor victims. The CCAHT works on behalf of minor victims of trafficking by collaborating within the systems in which they are inherently part of—families, foster homes, child welfare, kinship placement, education, juvenile justice, etc. CCAHT support staff amplify youth voice and ensure trauma-informed, developmentally appropriate, and culturally relevant care when navigating within each of these systems.
The developmental tasks of youth and adolescence produce vulnerabilities easily targeted by traffickers, such as impulsivity and the biological compulsion to cultivate a sense of belonging outside of the family of origin. Consequently, the harmful effects of trafficking within the context of adolescent development produce fragilities that, if not sufficiently tended to, will have profound impact on lifelong well-being. The CCAHT recognizes that in order to disrupt the cycle of violence and victimization, it is imperative that youth who have experienced trafficking have uninhibited access to specialized therapeutic support and comprehensive care through competent, knowledgeable providers. The current project will enable this by increasing CCAHT capacity to meet the growing demand of new referrals and expanding the scope of services available to youth to support their successful navigation through the systems they are a part of. The CCAHT will bolster youth resiliency by fostering opportunities for new social connections and experiences, and by equipping care giver capacity to respond to the needs of trafficked youth. In so doing, youth will learn the coping skills to manage the effects of their trauma in a safe and responsive environment, experience greater success in permanency placements, and enhance positive outcomes throughout the lifespan. As part of the Tennessee Counter-Trafficking Alliance, the CCAHT is uniquely positioned to enhance anti-trafficking efforts by leveraging existing partnerships and collaborations throughout the state, maximizing the impact and reach of this project.