FYSB Grantee Coordinates Anti-Trafficking Network in Arizona

A young woman holds up her hand to prevent being photographed.

The Arizona Partnership to End Domestic Trafficking, led by Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development in Phoenix, is one of three programs chosen last fall to take part in a new 2-year demonstration project aimed at helping victims of severe trafficking. As the Family & Youth Services Bureau-funded project begins, we asked Tumbleweed CEO Cynthia Schuler to tell us about her organization’s goals when it comes to this project in particular and wider efforts to combat trafficking in Arizona.

History of providing services to victims: “About 3 years ago we had Dr. Dominique Roe-Sepowitz of Arizona State University come in and train our staff on what to look for with regard to possible victims of trafficking. Staff began to identify that yes, in fact, our youth were victims of human trafficking. With ASU’s help, we started a support group called STAR [Sex Trafficking Awareness and Recovery], and we began to have youth showing up weekly. Last year with one•n•ten, which is the local group that serves LGBTQ youth, and Our Family, a nonprofit in Tuscon, we surveyed about 250 homeless youth who come into our resource centers. What we realized is that about a quarter of our youth admit being trafficked.”

Who the center is working with: “We have five partners: Project ALWAYS, a group of attorneys who offer free legal services to youth. Our Family. Dream Center, a nonprofit here in Phoenix that has a housing program for women who identify as being trafficked and want to get out of the life. ASU -- Dr. Roe Sepowitz did our evaluation and she’s the head of their department on human trafficking. And TRUST [Training and Resources United to Stop Trafficking] which is an organization that does a lot of facilitation and training within the community and brings networks together in regards to trafficking.”

Focus of the project: “The Dream Center, Tumbleweed and Our Family will offer case management. TRUST will begin to get networks around the entire state of Arizona and get folks trained on the issue of human trafficking. ASU will help us with data and also do some of the training. And Project ALWAYS will offer legal services to the folks who come into our programs.”

Why the project is needed: “It’s time that Arizona began to develop these networks, and that’s part of what we’re going to do. We’re going to get other organizations trained, on how to recognize and identify when clients have been trafficked, and just [raise] a lot of awareness so we can begin to serve the population better. In addition, we know case management needs to be unique to address this population.”

What the grant allows them to do that they couldn’t do otherwise: “The case management is something none of the organizations really had the ability to fund. And part of what we’re going to try to do is figure out standards for case management for folks who are working with the trafficked population. We’re also going to start six more STAR groups around the state so other agencies will be trained on this support-group model.

“The network building around the state – it was happening but very slowly. This will accelerate that. We’re going to have a symposium each year – that is something we clearly could not have done without the money – where we will educate and train folks including some special sessions where people walk out with the tools to begin to address this population. And really the collaboration. Although people want to take the time to sit down and really work together, this is having us do it in a very deliberate manner. And that’s a good thing.”

Learn more about FYSB's Services for Domestic Victims of Human Trafficking program.

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