Many youth serving organizations have recognized that traffickers and other exploiters seek out vulnerable youth to recruit and victimize. Although the Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) field are certain that there are large numbers of trafficking survivors among their clients, they have difficulty identifying them due to the reluctance of young people to disclose their experience.
It is crucial that all RHY providers who may come into contact with youth who are victims of human trafficking have a basic understanding of human trafficking in order to identify victims, provide appropriate trauma-informed services, and expand the network of services. It is also imperative that strategies for increasing youth’s awareness of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking are developed and implemented to prevent them from becoming victims. To meet these goals, the Administration for Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), announces the availability of competitive grant funds authorized by the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, 42 U.S.C. sections 5714-5723, as most recently amended by the Reconnecting Homeless Youth Act of 2008, Pub. L. 110-378 on October 8, 2008.
These funds will be used to help develop and implement age-appropriate strategies for youth to increase their awareness of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking to minimize their vulnerability of these crimes and identify or develop evidence-informed training for RHY providers and their partners who interact with runaway and homeless youth trafficked survivors. In addition to developing prevention strategies and identifying evidence-informed training, another factor is to learn more about the type and amount of trafficking runaway and homeless youth have experienced to better inform practice, advocacy, and policy.
There are four primary objectives of this grant funding: 1) develop and implement age-appropriate strategies targeted for youth to increase their awareness of the tactics used by perpetrators of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking that will reduce their vulnerability of these crimes; 2) identify or develop evidence-informed trainings for RHY providers and the organization they work with to serve runaway and homeless youth trafficked survivors; 3) identify or develop and scientifically validate screening and assessment tools that will enable RHY staff, and potentially other youth service providers, to better identify victims of trafficking among homeless youth; and 4) gain essential information regarding the trafficking experiences of runaway and homeless youth in order to a) enhance trauma-informed services and practices to better prevent trafficking among homeless youth and assist survivors of trafficking and b) provide empirical data that is lacking in the anti-human trafficking field to inform policy at all levels of government.