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Partners Against Trafficking in Humans assists victims on path to recovery

A $75,000 grant from the Toledo Community Foundation made to The University of Toledo will support the work of the Partners Against Trafficking in Humans Project.

The project aims to help move victims of human trafficking to survivors and survivors to thrivers through a coordinated, transparent and data-driven response, and is coordinated and overseen by the UT Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute.

Fanell Williams, project coordinator of Partners Against Trafficking in Humans in the UT School of Justice, said the project is based on a modified replica of the Pathways Model, which addresses the issue of Ohio’s infant mortality rate and works to improve birth outcomes in low-income, high-risk African-American mothers. This is also the first project in the nation to implement the Pathways Model to study a local community’s response to human trafficking.

“The goal of Partners Against Trafficking in Humans is to become an evidence-based model that can be used nationally for providing the best care coordination to assist victims of human trafficking on their path to recovery and restoration,” Williams said. “Creating a system of services that has the potential to restore individuals to the level of mental, emotional and physical well-being and economic stability they would have reached had they not been trafficked is a huge part of the vision.”

The project focuses on five main objectives: train professionals to increase their ability to identify and engage with victims of human trafficking and trafficked clients; provide highly trained care coordinators to effectively assess and intervene; produce high-quality individualized service plans and services that address individual needs; determine barriers and strengths and service delivery using a data-driven process of evaluation and response; and identify the continuum of care of victims to survivors and survivors to thrivers through continued data analysis and feedback.

Partners Against Trafficking in Humans has worked with several Lucas County organizations, including the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio, the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition, as well as numerous social service agencies that provide support, social, legal and health-care services.

According to Williams, local agencies can become approved partners by receiving training on human trafficking and/or trauma-informed care, signing a memorandum of understanding, and by providing a point of contact that will join the coalition and guide care coordinators and clients through their system of services.

Over the span of nine months, 800 professionals from criminal justice, health care, mental health and substance abuse, and various social services, have been trained on human trafficking, trauma-informed care, and the Partners Against Trafficking in Humans Model. The project is based in Lucas County, but will be expanded to other counties and states in the following years, according to Williams.

Through Partners Against Trafficking in Humans, 10 services have been identified as extremely beneficial for victims of human trafficking: trafficking education; legal; basic needs; injury, impairment and supports; mental health; services for dependents of clients; substance abuse treatment; support systems and life skills; empowerment; and health care.

“Partners Against Trafficking in Humans, in just the name, lets us know this is not a one person or one organization effort. This coordinated and collaborative response to human trafficking puts a mandate on local organizations to partner together to move a victim to survivor to thriver on her or his individual path of healing and recovery,” Williams said. “We know the cliché, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ It takes a community to work together in an organized manner to combat an issue while creating and sustaining positive change.”