In 2018, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) received 210 referrals for high-risk or confirmed child victims of sex trafficking in Connecticut. Of those, 153 (73 percent) were children of color and 35 were identified by DCF’s offices serving the Hartford region, Hartford and Manchester.
Love146 is an international human rights organization working to end child trafficking and exploitation through survivor care and prevention. It is Connecticut’s only provider of specialized services for victims of domestic minor sex trafficking. The organization is working to provide rapid response and long-term services to all victims of child sex trafficking in the state, and aims to expand its capacity to serve the anticipated increased demand in Greater Hartford. To assist in this effort, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has awarded a three-year, $150,000 grant for Love146’s Connecticut Survivor Care program in Greater Hartford. Love146, alongside DCF, has been working to improve identification through outreach and training of other relevant community providers.
“Trafficking is something that has happened to these youth, but it isn't something that defines them,” said Love146 U.S. Program Director Erin Williamson. “This grant means that we can better serve children who are being trafficked in the Greater Hartford area, and it covers key components of our program that government does not fund. When our youth come to us, some of them have been so traumatized that they can have trouble getting through that day, much less imagining any days ahead. We do activities with our youth that help them learn to begin to enjoy life and to begin to dream about their future.”
Love146’s support begins with one-time interventions with the goal of providing children with information, safety planning, and referral services. Following this rapid response, referring agents and children may request, and Love146 can recommend, additional long-term services. The long-term services program employs a trauma-informed care approach, and Love146 social workers cultivate strong relationships with program participants and coordination among staff.
Love146 works with children to assess their needs and develop Individual Care Plans (ICP), in collaboration with children’s support networks (e.g., legal guardians, other service providers). These plans guide the provision of services and identify measurable goals around safety, emotional well-being, and skill development, as well as incentives to help children stay motivated and achieve their specific goals. Services can include counseling, skill development, education/employment assistance, crisis intervention, court/trial preparation/assistance, and medical support. Love146 staff are available via phone and text 24-hours/day, 7-days a week to respond to client emergencies as they arise. Most children receive regular services for approximately six months, although cases are never closed.
The majority of the funding for Love146’s US Survivor Care programming comes from state and federal sources. The Hartford Foundation grant will complete Love146’s budget for Greater Hartford, covering some program costs, such as transportation and filled backpacks for youth during rapid responses. The Foundation’s support for this effort is aligned with its strategic commitment to address needs and advance opportunities for the region’s most vulnerable residents, impacted by race, place, and income.
“Child sex trafficking is far more pervasive in our region than many of us could ever imagine and disproportionately impacts children of color,” said Senior Community Investments Officer Megan Burke. “We are proud to provide this grant to support the unique and vital services offered by Love146. These expanded services will allow Love146 to support more youth to allow them to grow into strong, independent, and thriving young adults.”
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $720 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.