In 2013, the city of San Francisco made combating human trafficking a priority and established the Mayor’s Anti-Trafficking Task Force within the Department on the Status of Women. Through the advocacy of the Task Force, funding was set aside for a 24/7 response line to provide services to youth who have been sex trafficked in San Francisco.
Huckleberry Youth Programs was awarded the contract by the Human Services Agency (HSA) to provide these services, forming the Huckleberry Advocacy & Response Team (HA&RT) in February, 2016.
The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) is a form of human trafficking and occurs when youth under 18 are sex trafficked, or induced to perform sexual activity that involves the exchange of sex for anything of value. Youth can be vulnerable for a variety of reasons, including lacking basic needs, homelessness, child welfare involvement, juvenile justice involvement, histories of trauma, mental health concerns, and lacking systems of support. This is a prevalent issue in the Bay Area, including in SF.
HA&RT provides services designed specifically for youth ages 11-24 who are experiencing commercial sexual exploitation or who are at risk. Youth are referred by county child welfare, Juvenile Probation, school staff, medical providers, by peers, and self-referred.
- 24/7 response line to parallel Family and Children’s Services’ child abuse response to allegations of exploitation
- Case management services and referrals to increase safety and stabilize in:
- Basic needs
- Housing and placement
- Job training/employment
- Mental and physical health
- Prosocial activities
- Legal needs
- One-one-one prevention sessions that provide psychoeducation around trafficking, vulnerability, boundaries, and consent
- Citywide advocacy
- HA&RT served 89 youth between July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017
- HA&RT responded in person to 39 calls initiated by SF’s Family and Children’s Services and internal Huckleberry programs
- 85% of youth eligible for ongoing case management continued to engage in case management services
- HA&RT participated in city-level policy efforts around San Francisco’s multidisciplinary response to the issue of CSEC
- Satisfaction surveys are overwhelmingly positive. Youth have said the following about the program:
- “My case manager has helped me with my life goals and how to carry myself like I want to be treated.”
“This program has helped me so much I can’t say thank you enough!”
- “My case manager is a very good person and a good listener and helped me with all my problems.”
HA&RT collaborates with the following partners:
- Human Services Agency (county child welfare)
- Department on the Status of Women
- San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center
- Department of Public Health
- Public Defender
- District Attorney
- Juvenile Probation
- Partner community-based organizations (housing providers, mental health organizations)
Case Managers have experience working with exploited youth and are trained to respond to their unique needs. Services can be provided in a variety of locations in the community and anyone, including youth, can make a referral using this Referral Form. Huckleberry Youth Programs also provides trainings and case consultation.
For more information about the Huckleberry Advocacy & Response Team (HA&RT), please contact Huckleberry’s Intervention Services Coordinator, Carly Devlin, MSW at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WATCH OUT FOR “LOVE” WITH STRINGS!
Huckleberry and the SF Human Services Agency have partnered on a public awareness campaign entitled, “Watch Out for Love With Strings.”
The campaign aims to educate former and current victims, as well as those at-risk, of the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC).
CSEC is recognized as a form of child abuse that can often go unnoticed and untreated for extended periods before identification is made and services provided.
Foster children are particularly vulnerable, and this campaign seeks to raise awareness of potential exploitation among youth.