Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., announced today a new funding opportunity to create a Child and Youth Sex Trafficking Intervention Program in New York City. With a $2 million investment from the D.A.’s Office, the Intervention Program will serve young survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and young people who are at high risk of commercial sexual exploitation. This initiative will provide targeted support through a combination of survivor mentorship, intensive case management, and the provision of emergency and wraparound services. The Intervention Program will consider the perspectives of survivors to inform program design and implementation. The Manhattan D.A.’s Office is providing this grant through its Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (“CJII”), which D.A. Vance created using millions seized in investigations against major banks. A full list of investments can be found in CJII’s 2019 Progress Report and here.
“We are using funds seized in our investigations against major banks to close the gaps that cause vulnerable young New Yorkers to fall through the cracks and become targets for traffickers,” said District Attorney Vance. “In case after case, we see traffickers target children and teens, particularly those in our child welfare system or those who have run away from home. Through this investment in mentorship, case management, and emergency assistance, we will not only support child survivors of sex trafficking, we will help prevent children from being exploited in the first place. Together with our partners at ACS and the Mayor’s Office to End Gender-Based Violence, we are working to make sure children are protected from predators that would profit off their youth and vulnerabilities.”
In November 2018, the Manhattan D.A.’s office and ACS convened a summit with various city and state stakeholders, including government agencies, community-based organizations and foster care agencies, to identify promising practices, opportunities, and gaps in services to enhance the City’s continuum of prevention and intervention services for child sex trafficking victims. One of the primary gaps identified was the need for trauma-informed, mentorship-based program models. The release of today’s RFP is the culmination of this partnership and collaboration.
ACS Commissioner David A. Hansell said: “ACS is committed to doing everything we can to support young survivors of trafficking and continue to work towards helping exploited children and preventing further exploitation. The Manhattan District Attorney’s new Youth Sex Trafficking Intervention Program will help us advance these efforts by connecting some of our most vulnerable young people to critical support and trauma-informed services. We are proud to have been part of the convening that led to the development of this important initiative and look forward to our continued partnership.”
Commissioner Cecile Noel of the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence said: “A critical area for coordinating the City’s human trafficking response is to strengthen the important work being done to address youth who are trafficked or at high risk of being trafficked. Our collaboration with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the Administration for Children’s Services not only gives vital, additional resources to those who are on the ground everyday working to protect and support our most vulnerable youth it strengthens the odds that these young people will have access to better futures for themselves.”
The D.A.’s Office is seeking proposals to create a trauma-informed intervention program for young people ages 12 to 18 that addresses this vulnerable population’s short-term needs (physical healthcare, crisis counseling, access to food and housing) and long-term needs (educational supports, workforce development, trauma-specific interventions). The overarching goal of the Intervention Program is to create pathways for young people to escape the sex trade.
The Child and Youth Sex Trafficking Intervention Program will utilize a three-pronged approach:
- Mentorship: The Intervention Program will utilize mentors with similar life experiences to build transformational relationships with young people to assist them in achieving positive behavioral change and accessing helpful resources and supports. Mentors will be previously trafficked individuals (or those with similar life experiences) who will be matched with young survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and those at high risk of exploitation.
- Intensive Case Management: Case managers will develop individualized service plans for young people based on their specific needs and will offer counseling, crisis management, and skills-building services directly to participants. Case management will be trauma-informed, strengths-based, and participant-centered.
- Emergency Assistance and Wraparound Supports: Case managers, mentors, and other program staff will address a young person’s immediate needs and create pathways to provide wraparound supports. If a participant requires emergency assistance, such as food, clothing, or housing, staff will immediately connect these individuals to crisis intervention services before addressing other outstanding needs. Additional wraparound supports may include: educational services (e.g. school re-enrollment and academic counselling), workforce development, trauma-specific services (e.g. individual and group therapy, art therapy, and dance/movement therapy), physical healthcare, substance abuse services, and civic engagement and leadership.