Services to domestic minor victims of sex trafficking: Opportunities for engagement and support
Human trafficking of young people is a social problem of growing concern. This paper reports selected findings from an evaluation of three programs serving domestic minor victims of human trafficking. Participants in this study were funded to identify and serve male and female victims of sex or labor trafficking who were less than 18 years old and were U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. Programs provided case management and comprehensive services, either directly or through community collaboration. Evaluation data included data on client characteristics, service needs and services delivered; key informant interviews with program staff and partner agencies; and case narrative interviews in which program staff provided in-depth descriptions of clients' histories. All clients served were known or believed to be sex trafficked. The majority of clients needed crisis intervention, safety planning, educational support, mental health services, and employment services. Although they were diverse in terms of demographics and circumstances, two common patterns were of homeless young people exchanging sex to meet survival needs and young people were emotionally engaged with their trafficker. Key findings include the diversity of trafficked minors, the challenge of initial and continued engagement with service delivery, the structural and resource barriers to long-term support for young people, and the potential contribution of programs specifically addressing trafficked minors. A framework linking services to young people's circumstances and outcome areas is proposed.