Social Service Providers Role in Helping Victims

Image from IJM website

 

Social Service providers poster by the HHS

Social Service providers poster by the HHS

Social services providers play an important role in helping victims of human trafficking get help and restore their lives. Despite the fact that the needs of trafficking victims tend to be complex, often involving interactions with multi-jurisdictional law enforcement
personnel, lawyers, and an array of benefit providers, social workers are pivotal to the discovery and recovery stages for victims.

There are various tips provided by the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department to make their work more effective and less stressful. According to a publication of the department, service providers must consider the varying levels of trauma the victim has endured and the victim’s cultural background when addressing his or her needs.  The publication described community and state
funded resources available for use to help victims. “In addition, it outlines the types of Federal benefits and services available to trafficking victims in various immigration categories,” it noted.

Some states, such as New York and California have enacted laws that protect victims and provide restitutions to them.

 

Federal Resources for pre-certified victims of human trafficking

HHS Per Capita Services Contract:
This is a comprehensive support service contract designed to centralize services while maintaining a high level of care for victims of human trafficking. “The contract is designed to provide “anytime, anywhere” case management to assist a victim of trafficking to become certified, and to provide other short-term necessary services after Certification, through a network of nongovernmental service organization subcontractors in locations throughout the country,” the report stated.

Per capita subcontractors are reimbursed for each human trafficking victim served under their case management. This per capita system ensures the provision of efficient, high-quality services to victims of human trafficking. It also streamlines support to help victims of human trafficking gain timely access to shelter, legal assistance, job training, and health care, enabling them to live
free of violence and exploitation.

National Human Trafficking resource Center: This is a national, toll-free hotline for the human trafficking filed in the United States.  The center can be reached by calling 1-888-373-7888 or email at NHTRC@PolarisProject.org.  The center opens 24 hours a day, seven days a week, everyday of the year. So, with or without national holidays, a victim can receive help by calling that number.

“The NHTRC works to improve the national response to protect victims of human trafficking in the United States by providing callers with a range of comprehensive services, including crisis intervention, urgent and non-urgent referrals, tip reporting,
and comprehensive anti-trafficking resources and technical assistance for the anti-trafficking field and those who wish to get involved,” the report stated.

The NHTRC is able to connect community members with additional tools to raise awareness and combat human trafficking
in their local areas, as well as guide service providers and law enforcement personnel in their work with potential trafficking victims. To perform these functions, the NHTRC maintains a national database of organizations and individuals working in the anti-trafficking field, as well as a library of available anti-trafficking resources and materials.

You can access these reports online, trainings or report tips at the NHTRC website – http://www.traffickingresourcecenter.org

Office for Victims of Crime:
The U.S. Department of Justice’s (USDOJ) Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) provides services for pre-certified trafficking victims. You can view the USDOJ charts for more information. Services provided by this organization, include housing or shelter; food; medical, mental health, and dental services; interpreter/translator services; criminal justice victim advocacy; legal services; social services advocacy; literacy education; and/or employment assistance. In addition, OVC’s Online Directory of Crime Victim Services identifies local organizations providing services to victims.

State-Funded Assistance in 2006 & 2007

States are beginning to consider and enact anti-trafficking legislation, which often includes restitution to the victims of this crime. For instance, New York and California have passed laws that provide State-funded services to pre-certified victims of human trafficking:

• New York State enacted legislation that provides services for pre-certified trafficking victims (Chapter 74 of the Laws of 2007). State-funded services include case management, emergency temporary housing, health care (including mental health), drug addiction screening and treatment, language and translation services, and job training. To learn about services for human trafficking victims in New York State, contact the New York State Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance at 1-518-402-3096 or http://otda.ny.gov/programs/bria/trafficking.asp

• California enacted legislation in 2006 (SB 1569) to expand protections for trafficking survivors, including temporary and immediate access to services prior to Federal Certification. The California Department of Social Services’ Human Trafficking
Fact Sheet (January 2008) provides an overview of State-funded services available to pre-certified victims as well as links to receive additional information and to apply for benefits or services through the County Welfare Department (http://www.cdss.ca.gov/refugeeprogram/PG1726.htm). In December 2006, the California Department of Social Services issued pre- and post-implementation letters to county welfare departments with information and instructions to implement SB 1569 (http://www.dss.cahwnet.gov/getinfo/acl06/pdf/06-60.pdf and http://www.dss.cahwnet.gov/lettersnotices/entres/getinfo/acin07/pdf/I-41_07.pdf), and has since also provided Special Notices with additional guidance.

 

Note:

  1. Pre-certified victims are persons who are neither U.S. citizens nor Lawful Permanent Residents (“foreign victims”) and who have not yet received a Certification Letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allowing them to access federally funded benefits and services to the same extent as refugees. There are many resources available to pre-certified victims, and many nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are very knowledgeable and helpful in using community resources to assist victims.
  2. For more information about how to become a subcontractor and how to enroll a client, please contact mrstvics@usccb.org.
  3. See http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/grants/traffickingmatrix.html for more information about the services provided by the US Department of Justice.
  4. Monitor your State legislature Websites to identify any pending or enacted legislation

 

Source: US Department of Health and Human Services

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