Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The FBI Recovers 105 Sexually Exploited Children across the United States

This weekend, 105 sexually exploited teenagers were recovered in a nationwide FBI sex trafficking sting. The raid, which was the result of collaboration between FBI, local, state and federal law enforcement partners, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), covered 76 cities, recovered children as young as thirteen, and resulted in the arrest of 150 pimps.

The operation reiterated that the victimization of vulnerable youth can and does happen here in the United States in cities as varied as San Francisco, Atlanta, Detroit, and Birmingham. Ron Hosko, the assistant director of the FBI's criminal investigations division, acknowledged that some of these youth were directly recruited out of foster care facilities, pinpointing a critical point of entry and exit within the child welfare system. San Francisco saw the largest number of recovered victims from the raid of any one city; the FBI was able to find 12 victims of trafficking and arrest 17 pimps. These numbers happen to coincide with staggering statistics in California that connect foster care youth and emancipated youth with homelessness. For instance, each year in California, nearly 2,300 youth age out of foster care [1] and 65% do so without a place to live [2]. Of emancipated youth in the Bay Area, it is estimated that up to 44 percent have experienced homelessness [3].

On a national scale, one in eight endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 2012 were likely to be sex trafficking victims [4]. Of the children reported missing to NCMEC who are also likely to be child sex trafficking victims, 60 percent were in foster care or group homes when they ran away [5].The vulnerabilities and characteristics common to runaway and homeless youth often place them both within the child welfare system and in the direct line of sight for traffickers, making them easy prey in a lucrative business.

Interestingly, victim assistance counselors are working to place the recovered teenagers in foster care or group homes after the sting as well, presumably given that many of them have no families to return to or safe places to call home. This reality calls for a differential response within child welfare protocol, a crisis intervention plan of action, and more comprehensive solutions to engaging homeless youth to ensure that they do not flee back into a rabbit hole of revictimization.

IOFA's Illinois Childright project spearheaded development of a statewide child trafficking response with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services this year; the resulting blueprint and designation of a human trafficking coordinator within DCFS has paved the way for new protocol and policies to guide investigations, a human trafficking indicator in the SACWIS person management screen, and the training of hundreds of frontline workers.

Now, as IOFA replicates this work in five counties across the state of New York, the common thread is crystal clear. Safe Harbor laws in states like New York, Illinois, and Connecticut transfer jurisdiction of children who are arrested for prostitution from the criminal system to the child protection system, saving youth from the categorical implications of ‘criminal’ and the life outcomes that stem from them. But legal statutes must be reinforced with operational frameworks and protocols within child welfare agencies to ensure that vulnerable youth are met with a comprehensive response no matter their point of entry into the system. It is only then that we can say that our youth are being afforded the basic rights they deserve, no matter the unfortunate hand life has dealt them.

-Summar Ghias
Program Coordinator

[1] Child Welfare Services Stakeholders Group. (2003). CWS Redesign: The Future of California’s Child Welfare Services. Sacramento: California Department of Social Services.

[2] Issue Brief, Ensuring Access to Healthy Young Adults Program for Transitioning Youth, citing a California Department of Social Services 2002 Study: Report of the Housing Needs of Emancipated Foster/Probation Youth; California Department of Social Services. (2002) Report on the Survey of the Housing Needs of Emancipated Foster/Probation Youth. Independent Living Program Policy Unit, Child and Youth Permanency Branch.




Friday, July 26, 2013

Greetings from Addis Ababa!

July 12, 2013

It has now been two weeks since I arrived in Addis, and already I have learned much about the situation of orphans and vulnerable children in Ethiopia, as well as the obstacles they face in transitioning out of care and reintegrating into the outside community. After many long conversations and meetings with various NGOs and care institutions here, this is the general picture of the future of those children growing up in care institutions:

First, most institutions in Addis are orphanages whose main goal is international adoption for their children. As they grow older, their chances of adoption grow slim. Many of the orphanages that focus on adoption do not have plans for children who have grown too old for adoption, and the children keep hoping and dreaming that they will leave Ethiopia one day. Some care institutions move children to group homes after a certain age, or try to reintegrate them with their extended families.

Some care institutions are not interested in adoption. These institutions can be private and well-funded (like Selam Children’s Villages) or public institutions (like Kolfe and Kechene orphan homes). The private institutions usually have an organized plan for transition and reintegration, including gradual transitions to independent living, scholarships for university, vocational training, etc. The public institutions are overpopulated and understaffed, and often do not have the funding or the manpower to thoroughly address the issues that these children will face outside of the only home they have ever known.

The challenges that these children will face when they age out of care are many. The biggest challenge seems to be the culture shock that they encounter as soon as they leave the institution. Many of these children have been isolated in these care institutions for their entire lives. They often do not have the social skills necessary for community life in Ethiopia, which is a different culture than the in which they grew up; this seems to be especially true for young people from large institutions that have a more dormitory living arrangements. Some institutions work with a village model, raising the children in homes of 8-10 that effectively function as family units. Still, the children in these village-based organizations have very little contact with the surrounding communities and have developed a certain set of social and cultural skills that allowed them to function within the institution but not outside. Without social and cultural education, these young people often find it challenging to integrate themselves into the city of Addis Ababa.

A complementary challenge to transition comes from Ethiopian community-based culture itself. Most children in Addis grow up in a community in which their family is established. They often do not move far from that community, even when they reach adulthood. People do not move to new neighborhoods and communities like we do in the United States. Young people leaving care must find homes in established communities and they are often viewed as invaders. Because no one knows who they are or much about their background, the community often does not trust or engage with these young people. Being an orphan or an unsupported youth in Ethiopia also carries its own stigma—they are often seen as delinquents, which creates another barrier to community integration. In a culture and society so focused on communal interaction, this kind of social isolation can be psychologically and emotionally devastating.

The social and cultural challenges that these young people face are difficult enough, but often added to this burden is lack of support in securing basic needs. Some youth attend university, some get vocational training. The quality of education is variable, depending on not only an individual’s academic performance but also on how much financial support they get from their institution. Because Addis attracts many people from all regions of Ethiopia and because the youth are the fastest growing population in Ethiopia, there is a shortage of good jobs. Many young people cannot get a job for at least a year after graduating from college. If and when young people do find work, they often do not make enough to support themselves. It is common for young people to live with their parents after they have graduated from university or vocational school until they get married—a good 2-6 years. Without the support of a family system to fall back on, many orphaned and unsupported youth are forced to take job opportunities that others pass up—jobs that are low-paying. Some institutions do support their former residents by giving them housing and food allowance, but these are in the minority.

Fortunately, the Ethiopian government is finally realizing that there is a service gap in reintegration and transition support. Along with moving away from the traditional dormitory/orphanage model of care for unsupported or orphaned children, the government is trying to incorporate models of care that mimic community and village life. UNICEF Ethiopia is also collaborating with Kolfe and Kechene orphanages in Addis on reintegration education and support programs, though the funding and results of their efforts are still unclear.

All of this information has come from administrative staff of various NGOs and care institutions here in Addis Ababa. I am very interested to hear from those individuals who have transitioned into the city of Addis about their own experiences, to hear their own individual stories.

If you are interested in learning about the organizations with which IOFA will be working with this summer, here is a list. Each is doing great work and deserves to be known.

Women In Self Employment (WISE)
Selam Children’s Village
AHOPE Ethiopia
Children’s Heaven
The Organization for Rehabilitation and Development in Amhara (ORDA)
The Italian Center for Children’s Aid (CIAI)
Kingdom Vision International
Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture in Ethiopia (RCVTE)

Sarah Lyn Jones
Transitions Initiative Intern
Photo 1: AHOPE for Kids
Photo 2: ReTrak Vocational Training Program

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Treating Children as Victims, Not Criminals

Child Sex Trafficking is one of the worst forms of human trafficking and child sexual abuse. It is a large, and growing, problem throughout the world and in the U.S.

Fast Facts

  • 50% of transnational victims of human trafficking are children
  • In India, it is estimated that 270,000-400,000 children are working in prostitution
  • In Nepal, the problem is spread out all over the entire country. It is estimated that there are 800 girls working in the sex trade in the Kathmandu valley alone
  • Young boys are often victimized in Pakistan ; often they are first hooked on drugs before they are forced to prostitute themselves
  • In Sri Lanka, the average age of a child who is prostituted is 8-15 years old

What about in the U.S.?

  • There are an estimated 300,000 American children at risk of sexual exploitation
  • The average age that a girl is first victimized and prostituted is 12-14
  • Over 50% of domestic victims are classified as runaway youth living on the street
  • 55% of street girls become entangled in prostitution networks
  • The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children conservatively estimates that 100,000 children are exploited each year for prostitution in the United States

What is being done to help these children in the US?

There are numerous steps that are being taken in the US to combat human trafficking. One important legal one is the passage of legislation known as the 'Safe Harbor Acts', acts that are intended to protect victims of child exploitation. The goals of the Safe Harbor Laws are to 
  1. Prevent minor victims from being prosecuted for prostitution and
  2. Protect Child victims of sex trafficking by providing them with specialized services
Safe Harbor Laws are important because they treat victims as victims as it gives them access to the services they need, and the ability to escape 'the Life' instead of being victimized twice; once by the pimps and a second time by the system.

New York was the first state to enact the Safe Harbor for Exploited Children Act in 2008. Several other states followed, including Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Vermont, Connecticut, Tennessee, and Washington. The Texas Supreme Court also ruled on a case that children cannot be charged with prostitution.

In Illinois, the Safe Harbor Act for Exploited Children was signed by Governor Quinn on August 20, 2010.
Some key points
  • If a child is under the age of 18, they are immune from prosecution of prostitution offenses. This is a change from the previous age of 16
  • Children who are victimized by human trafficking or by prostitution now fall within the definition of an 'abused child.' This means that any law enforcement official who takes a child under 18 into custody for a prostitution offense must immediately repeat an allegation of Human Trafficking to DCFS. Within 24 hours, DCFS must begin their initial investigation
  • The term 'Juvenile Prostitute' is eliminated from the criminal code, and replaced with minors engaged in prostitution.
  • Finally, mistake of age is now not allowed as a criminal defense. A pimp or solicitor cannot argue that they thought the minor was above the age of 18
New York has similar legislation. In regards to services, the legislation goes a couple steps further to ensure that victims have an advocate during all steps of the process.
  • Advocates: Must accompany child to court
  • Housing: Safe Houses must, either directly or through written agreement with another agency, 
    • Housing
    • Assessment
    • Case management
    • Medical care
    • Legal services
    • Mental health and substance abuse services
    • Must have service plan for
    • Counseling and therapeutic services
    • Education services including life skills, and planning services to transition back into the community
  • OCFS must offer appropriate services to a sexually exploited child
  • Section gives the department or any person the authority to file a care and protection petition or a CHINS petition if a sexually exploited child is unable or unwilling to participate in services
However, this is only nine out of 50 states that have such legislation. It is up to individuals to motivate their representatives to pass similar Safe Harbor Legislation. See the Polaris Project on ways that you can take action:

Project Development Intern

Monday, July 22, 2013

There is no (place like) home.

27,000,000: the estimated number of human trafficking victims in the world
          1644: the estimated number of US beds available to trafficking victims

You do the math.

Housing options for trafficking victims are severely limited nationwide. According to a Polaris Project survey, there are a total of 529 documented beds designated for trafficking victims, and another 1115 that are offered to trafficking victims among other vulnerable populations. A total of eight of these beds are in Illinois.

This is no small problem.

Last week the Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force hosted a Housing Summit in order to connect key agencies that provide housing and shelter options for vulnerable populations like trafficking victims. The Summit sought to identify the gaps in the existing systems and to begin the long-term discussion on innovative ways to tackle them.

Challenges in the current system

The needs of trafficking victims are complex and diverse. Domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, and other temporary care systems have been viable resources, but they are often not equipped to provide the protection and trauma-based care that trafficking victims need. A lively discussion at the Housing Summit last week pinpointed the abundant challenges.

When providing support and resources for trafficking victims, a major obstacle is the diversity of the populations. Trafficking is a phenomenon that transcends socio-economic, educational, gender, age, and background differences, leading the victim services needed to be equally diverse. A safe setting for one victim may not be a wise option for another, a prime example being a victim needing protection from a perpetrator, necessitating security, confidentiality, and distance. Nonetheless, this type of setting cannot be provided for every victim, especially in open-access homeless shelters. A soft bed does not always equate a safe place.

Another frustration with the current system is the disorganization of resources and collaboration. First responders are not guaranteed a secure next step in regards to social service agencies because there is not an organized protocol nor centralized database for the various resources available to trafficking victims. Each agency is dependent on its own connections, none of which are ultimately responsible for the trafficking victim’s placement.

This concern overlaps into apprehension about some agencies’ lack of experience with trafficking victims. Safe bed providers – shelters, private families, and prison cells (yikes) may not have trained staff who understand the flight risk of trafficking victims, the trauma-based care needed in all communication with victims, and the safety needs – both physical and psychological – of the victims. Direct service providers express concern that faith-based supporters and other well-meaning individuals may not advocate a victim-centered approach to care and may not have a firm grasp on how to deliver trauma-based care.

In the most practical of concerns, social service providers also highlight difficulty with transportation of clients to the shelters. Independent agencies may be responsible to accompany trafficking victims anywhere from two miles to 200, depending on the location of the shelter. Public transportation may not be an appropriate option, and there is no streamlined response to this need. While calling 311 is an option, the service obligates a visit to a police station or a medical center before offering transportation. Moreover, given the tension between law enforcement and victims (many of whom have been mistreated by law enforcement officers, may have been threatened with deportation, or may have been denied help in the past) as well as between law enforcement and social service providers, this is an unattractive option. Social service providers have found the bureaucratic requirements involved in attaining permission from the Department of Human Services to take advantage of 311 transportation services to be more of an obstacle than helpful.

In the same vein, bureaucratic hoops regarding documentation for victims have proven to be destructive to obtaining safe housing for trafficking victims. Many victims lack 1) documentation at all, 2) matching documentation, or 3) documentation of legal status. Shelters are unable to verify victims’ ages, creating liabilities that they often cannot afford. They may not be able to service undocumented individuals or they may have other clientele requirements that bar particular trafficking victims from receiving care.

Some trafficked populations face more obstacles than others. Particularly under-resourced groups are trafficked males, trafficked transgender populations, and labor-trafficked populations (in contrast to female sex trafficking victims). Many of the presently utilized safe beds are for victims of domestic violence, which may be appropriate placements for female victims of sex trafficking. Few shelters have the necessary protection for male victims, and even fewer have appropriate options for transgender or transsexual victims. Placing a trans-woman in a male shelter, for example, can have traumatizing effects. Cook County lacks safe spaces and trained staff for these populations.

To that effect, a lack of “flexibility and common sense” on behalf of the shelters has presented unnecessary challenges in obtaining safe housing for trafficking victims. Treatment varies not only from shelter to shelter, but from staff person to staff person, and the lack of continuity has been a primary frustration for social services seeking provision for trafficking victims.

This list of concerns is far from exhaustive.

Looking ahead

While the problem is daunting, the Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force and supporters are ready to wrestle the issue. The Housing Summit last week began the dialogue on potential responses to these challenges through innovation and collaboration.

Participants in the Summit discussed the physical shelter and housing options. Currently utilized are shelters for victims of domestic violence, for youth, and for people who are homeless, though some of the shortcomings are detailed above. Hotels also have potential for emergency placements, especially in strategic partnership with supportive hotels. An option for transitional housing is private family placements, which involve extensive training and liability for the families agreeing to offer shelter or housing to victims. For long-term placements, there are innovative models of scatter-site housing as well as communal living. There are many possibilities to continue exploring.

Participants also discussed the need for stages of change and providing housing for all three levels of need: emergency, transitional, and long-term placements. Particularly highlighted was potential for a tiered system of services to account for each level and stage of need, as well as for the diversity of trafficking victims’ profiles (age, gender, sexual orientation, legal status, familial status, type of trafficking, and more).

The Summit suggested improvements to the current system of response as well as the creation of new resources and new shelters specifically for victims of trafficking. Potential funding opportunities were also brought to the forefront to prioritize the coordination of trafficking victim resources.

This is just the beginning of the discussion. The Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force and the Summit participants will not rest until assured that human trafficking victims have safe spaces to the do the same.

The Housing Summit is just one component of the Task Force’s efforts to improve services to trafficking victims. We envision a strategic network of law enforcement and social service providers able to meet the various needs of each victim.

Alexa Schnieders
Program Development Intern

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Welcome to Addis Ababa, Sarah!

July 4, 2013
After finishing my undergraduate degree, I had the incredible opportunity to live and work in South India, teaching girls and young women conversational English and volunteering at different women’s organizations.  It was there that I fell in love with youth-centered service work, and am now pursuing my Masters in Social Work at the University of Chicago, focusing on international social work.  After graduating, I hope to find work with an internationally-focused organization that invests in, supports, and empowers vulnerable youth and young adults around the world. 
I am excited to start my work as the Transitions Initiative Intern with IOFA!  This summer, I will be in Addis Ababa doing research on the experience of adolescents who have left institutional care (orphanages, group homes, etc.) to make their own way in the world.  Youth and young adults who lack the support of family networks face severe challenges in transitioning to adulthood, and are much more vulnerable to the problems of exploitation, poverty, and violence.  Throughout the next two months, I will be working with local organizations to identify and interview individuals who grew up without traditional family support and record their transition stories.
I have been in Addis for only 10 days, but am already falling in love with the city and its people.  As I meet with organizational directors, humanitarian workers, and children at group homes/orphanages, I am learning much about the needs of these youth and am energized and inspired to continue the amazing work that IOFA does with the Transitions Initiative. 
Sarah Lyn Jones
Transitions Initiative Intern

Monday, July 15, 2013

LGBTQ Youth Homelessness, Trafficking Risks, and Suggested Solutions

It is no secret that, in many ways, LGBTQ youth have it rough. Anyone with internet access can look up startling statistics about the causes and consequences of disproportionate homelessness that continue to plague young queer individuals. Some highlights include:
  • Approximately 20 and 40% of American homeless youth self-identify as LGBTQ, despite less than 10% of Americans identifying as LGBT.   
  • Higher incidences of mental health problems and substance abuse among homeless LGBTQ youth, compared to their straight homeless counterparts.   
  • Discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming (GNC) individuals in many areas, such as employment (26% of survey respondents claiming they were fired for their gender identity), harassment (reports from 78% of survey respondents), and housing (19% of respondents indicating that they were denied a home or apartment on the basis of their gender identity).   
  • A large group (42% of the sample surveyed) of queer youth in out-of-home (i.e., foster care, juvenile detention facilities, on the streets) indicating that family conflicts due to their LGBT identity led to removal or ejection from their homes

Often, the studies that produce this data are supplemented with anecdotes wherein LGBTQ youth detail the abuses and hardships that stem from intolerance against their sexual minority status. Motifs of neglect, discrimination, and apathy weave through these individuals’ reports. For example, several transgender youth report being put into uncomfortable or inappropriate situations in shelters and state facilities that classify residents on the basis of birth gender; one male-to-female individual in a group home for boys had to petition for a court order when shelter officials refused to let her shower alone, instead of with the rest of the male cohort she lived with. Reports of negligence from authority figures also surfaced more than once. Stories range from queer victims of assaults being told by social workers that they were “asking for it” to gay and lesbian individuals being convicted as sex offenders, and having to deal with the stigma and legal restrictions associated with that label, for consensual, non-violent sex acts that are condoned among heterosexual youth.

By no means can these alarming stats and stories paint an accurate portrait of the LGBTQ community at large, and the healthy skeptic in me is always wary of taking any study or datum at face value or extrapolating research too far. Like all other reports, the studies I read through are not immune to the same mundane sampling biases and insufficiencies or erroneous interpretations that permeates research, not to mention the additional difficulties that accompany working on the intersections of marginalized, transient, and (understandably) distrustful LGBTQ and homeless communities.
Nonetheless, a relatively clear image emerges from the murky mix of quantitative data and anecdotal evidence of a community of adolescents subjected to systemic abuses, offered inadequate social services, and at high risk of trafficking.

Although phrases like “the Defense of Marriage Act” or “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” will be foreign to future generations, many reports indicate that the LGBTQ community still has much work to do, particularly for its homeless youth. The social workers, activists, and researchers who have studied the LGBTQ homelessness phenomenon have put together, in their various reports, a list of strategy and policy suggestions that youth care providers can implement to prevent these vulnerable youth from “falling through the cracks” and into the hands of traffickers. These recommendations can be broadly grouped into three categories: suggested services, legislation, and policies. They range from simple to systemic to perhaps a little radical, and a few of the key suggestions are listed below:

1. Services and Programs
  • Family Intervention Programs and Counseling: Since conflicts between parents and their children over the youth’s LGBTQ status often lead to the youth being removed or kicked out of their houses and left homeless, family counseling services, youth empowerment programs, and family acceptance programming could help minimize family rejection of queer youth and thus the amount of so-called “throwaway” youth.
  • LGBTQ Dedicated Housing: While there is a general demand for more housing for homeless youth—in 2005 alone, over 4500 individuals were turned away from federally sponsored services and centers through the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act simply due to a lack of capacity—there is a particular need for dedicated LGBTQ housing options. Existing housing services often fail to be inclusive, safe spaces for the LGBTQ community, because of general discrimination or birth gender-based housing requirements that fail to take into account one’s gender identity. Such gaps may leave youth with no place to turn but the streets, where conditions are worse and risks of becoming trafficked increase. Two recent laudable initiatives—a federal grant of up to $900,000 for transitional housing programs for homeless LGBTQ youth and a new housing development in Chicago’s Boystown for LGBTQ seniors—provide good examples for future programs.
  • Research: Nearly all of the current studies on LGBTQ youth and homelessness call for more data and more funding for future studies, so that service providers and policy makers can get a better sense of the community’s and the youths’ needs.

2. Legislation
  • Safe Schools: Homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools is well documented and is a major contributor of absenteeism, mental health problems, and thus homelessness among LGBTQ youth. Proposed legislation, like the Student Nondiscrimination Act, seeks to emulate Title IX’s protection of women in schools and prohibit intolerance on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools.    
  • Decriminalization of Homelessness and “Survival Crimes”: The debilitating and stressful conditions of homelessness—which, as one study reports, affect LGBTQ adolescents more than non-queer youth—may drive individuals to substance abuse, theft, or so-called “survival sex.” Rather than simply punishing these individuals and burdening them with the legal and social stigmas of being criminals that leads to employment and housing discrimination, continued criminal activity, and higher risks of trafficking, some of the studies advocate restorative justice approaches that decriminalize homelessness, vagrancy, and crimes that needy individuals commit in favor of providing them with healing and empowering services. Illinois, for instance, passed the Illinois Safe Children’s Act in 2010, which eliminated “juvenile prostitution” from the criminal code and recognized all prostituted minors as trafficking victims rather than perpetrators, a major stride in protecting vulnerable youth.

3. Policies for Service Providers
  • Universal Definitions among Agencies: What one government agency labels “homelessness” may be considered “sleeping on a friend’s couch” by another program. Creating universal and broad definitions of homelessness, that include less conventional but still relevant forms of homelessness, among service providers and agencies would ensure that more at-risk individuals are eligible for programs.    
  • Nondiscrimination for Grant Recipients: Federal funds go to a broad range of service providers and organizations, but there is no protocol to ensure that grant recipients carry out LGBTQ-inclusive practices in the programs. Having some form of oversight to guarantee that grant-receiving organizations do not discriminate against LGBTQ individuals, either explicitly or informally, may diffuse some of the distrust that queer youth have for service providers and make services more accessible.    
  • Implementing LGBTQ-friendly Policies: Small steps, like policies that prevent the disclosure of youth clients’ sexual orientations or gender identities without their consent or that allow LGBTQ clients to use their preferred instead of legal names, can make an organization more queer-inclusive.    
  • “Cultural Competency” Training: Each study suggested that agencies offer a curriculum that educates employees in LGBTQ issues to dispel misconceptions and biases. Earlier this year, a prison in England offered inmates and employees programming for LGBT history month. The prison has received much praise for its innovative and inclusive program, but the best endorsement comes from one prisoner who explained how the training transformed him from a self-confessed “gay bashing” homophobe to an ally of the queer community.

Looking forward, the Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force in Illinois seeks to address these issues affecting LGBTQ homeless youth by collaborating with key LGBTQ community organizations and by working directly with the young people themselves. The New York-based ChildRight Project, IOFA’s new initiative that will equip child welfare workers to assist youth trafficking victims, also aims to address these concerns.

National Center for Transgender Inequality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force: “Injustice at Every Turn”
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force: “An Epidemic of Homelessness”

Matt Kellner