I first learned about human trafficking while working as a Youth Development Counselor at a group home in New York City. There I worked with teenage girls in the foster care system who had suffered extreme abuses at the hands of loved ones. Several young women were survivors of child sex trafficking, but none of them were in the clear; they were still dealing with the physical and emotional scars left by their traffickers, and there were pimps waiting by our doorstep at night, hoping to pull them back into “the life.”
Seeing these realities led me to study the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) and New York’s Safe Harbour Act during my MSW studies at McGill University. After gaining a detailed understanding of CSEC and the law, I continued to advocate for human trafficking victims as a fellow at the Polaris Project in Washington, DC. I remained active in the fight against human trafficking as a fellow at the New York State Council on Children and Families. At the Council I gained critical insight into New York’s policy making process.
Now, I am very pleased to join IOFA’s team as Project Director of ChildRight: New York. The project strategically strengthens the child welfare response to human trafficking throughout New York by:
• providing training and technical assistance to direct service providers and professionals likely to encounter trafficked youth;
• gathering data on the CSEC population in New York;
• creating a validated screening tool to identify child victims of human trafficking; and
• developing a blueprint for a statewide operational framework to continue the implementation of the Safe Harbour Act.
It is our goal to use this opportunity to make a measurable impact in the implementation of the Safe Harbour Act so that New York can better identify and serve CSEC victims, and ultimately prevent the victimization of vulnerable youth.
I look forward to learning from New York’s many experts as we work together to meet the challenge of improving the state’s response to the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
Madeline Hannan, MSW
Project Director, ChildRight: New York