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January 2021 | Volume 14 | Issue 1

The U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Justice Programs (OJP) provides leadership to federal, state, local, and tribal justice systems by disseminating state-of-the art knowledge and practices across the United States and providing grants for the implementation of these crime-fighting strategies. OJP plays an integral role in the DOJ’s broad-based anti-trafficking efforts to bring human traffickers to justice and to assist trafficking survivors.

In June 2020, OJP consolidated its human trafficking-focused initiatives into one Human Trafficking Division located within the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC). As one of six OJP components, OVC seeks to enhance the nation’s capacity to assist crime victims and provide leadership in changing attitudes, policies, and practices to promote justice and healing for all victims of crime. OVC is the largest federal funder of services for human trafficking victims, managing more than 400 grant awards totaling more than $270 million in 46 states; Washington, D.C.; and the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands. By integrating law enforcement, juvenile justice, and victim services trafficking work under one dedicated Human Trafficking Division, OJP is modeling a multidisciplinary approach that is a known best practice for addressing the needs of trafficking victims.

OVC also supports law enforcement agencies and victim service organizations as they build capacity and leadership in identifying human trafficking victims and connecting them to services. OVC’s Enhanced Collaborative Model (ECM) Task Force to Combat Human Trafficking program encourages human trafficking task forces to implement collaborative, sustainable, trauma-informed, victim-centered investigation and prosecution approaches that proactively identify and serve all victims of all types of human trafficking. ECM task forces around the United States implement a range of strategies to identify victims, provide needed services, and hold offenders accountable. Some examples include the following:

  • In April 2020, the Greater New Orleans Human Trafficking Task Force published a comprehensive guide of local, regional, statewide, and national resources for its network of service providers and the communities they serve to use in their response strategies to the pandemic.
  • The Palm Beach County, Florida, Human Trafficking Task Force houses partners from local and federal law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim service professionals in the same office. This provides a coordinated, collaborative approach to identifying, investigating, and prosecuting human trafficking cases and providing trauma-informed services to victims.
  • The Western District of New York Human Trafficking Task Force conducted a threat assessment to detect local industries that were vulnerable to labor exploitation and trafficking. Using the assessment, the task force identified the dairy farm industry as a focus area for building relationships and cultivating information to proactively identify potential victims of human trafficking.

To support the multidisciplinary ECM task forces, OVC funds three training and technical assistance providers:

  1. ICF, Inc. supports anti–human trafficking task forces with capacity-building and implementation strategies to develop and sustain a high functioning collaborative task force. ICF manages a peer liaison program, conducts site assessments, assists with strategic planning, and holds events to explore and identify gaps in emerging issues and recommend training solutions for multidisciplinary task force teams.
  2. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) develops multisector trainings and peer-to-peer learning opportunities to increase the organizational capacity of ECM task forces to better identify victims, provide services, and successfully investigate and prosecute cases at all levels. They offer a map of task forces across the country and best practices in anti-trafficking task force development.
  3. The National White Collar Crime Center is developing a human trafficking and child exploitation identification and prevention program that trains law enforcement to deliver a curriculum to in school-age youth.

To further reduce barriers, OVC also funds other human trafficking–focused training and technical assistance. Check out the following resources to help you in your anti-trafficking work.

  • American University’s Maximizing OVC’s Survivor Assistance in Court Settings (MOSAICS) assists courts in implementing trauma-responsive policies to identify survivors of human trafficking and improving outcomes for survivors facing criminal charges. The training and technical assistance project seeks to reduce retraumatization in court proceedings and offers a continuum of social service referrals for survivors.
  • The Comprehensive Legal Training and Technical Assistance - Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) builds the capacity of legal and social service providers to deliver services to human trafficking victims. The program increases victims’ access to the full spectrum of legal remedies available to increase their safety, financial well-being, independence, and self-sufficiency through access to trained legal service providers.
  • The Framework: Tools to Combat Labor Trafficking - International Rescue Committee helps service providers and their community partners identify and provide transformative services to survivors of labor trafficking. Dedicated staff create tailored, engaging, and user-friendly training, technical assistance, and resources that respond to the needs identified by the field.
  • The Freedom Network Training Institute Housing Training and Technical Assistance Project - Freedom Network USA project improves the quality and quantity of housing services offered to trafficking survivors by increasing capacity of victim service providers nationwide, including through strengthening victim service providers’ partnerships at the national, state, and local levels with housing stakeholders.
  • Futures Without Violence’s Promoting Employment Opportunities for Survivors of Trafficking Program aims to increase access to quality educational and employment opportunities for human trafficking survivors. Futures Without Violence has developed a curriculum on trauma-informed employment services for trafficking survivors for in-person training, delivers webinars and resources, and a roadmap tool for identifying local employment and training opportunities for survivors.
  • The Human Trafficking Capacity Building Center offers free coaching and mentoring to organizations and federally recognized tribes looking to start, sustain, or grow their anti-trafficking work. A resource library provides information on topics including available grant funding for human trafficking and victim identification programs. It also houses sample documents for formalizing partnerships, managing relationships, and conducting evaluations.
  • The OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center (TTAC) provides practitioner-driven, evidence-based training and technical assistance that is responsive to the needs of victim service providers, their communities, and the victims they serve—including a specific focus on human trafficking.
  • The Understanding Human Trafficking training is a series of five interactive online modules that offer foundational learning on trauma-informed and victim-centered approaches to human trafficking.

If you’re looking for an easy way to make a difference in your community, you can share the following state and local anti-trafficking resources with your community partners:

OVC has a long history of supporting law enforcement and victim services programs across the country. Subscribe to News From OVC for updates on new funding opportunities and other OVC announcements. With these supports, you can shine a light on this hidden crime and make a difference in the lives of trafficking survivors.

Cynthia E. Pappas
Senior Policy Advisor/Juvenile Justice Coordinator
Office for Victims of Crime

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