Critical to the study was identifying a sample of HHS-funded programs working with victims of human trafficking that represent a range of service providers and communities across the country. Specifically, locations with the greatest concentration of HHS-funded programs, including Rescue and Restore coalitions, subcontractors under the per capita program run by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), intermediary contractors, and street outreach grantees were identified. Other criteria for selecting the final study sample included:
- Geographic regionInternational and domestic victims of human trafficking can be found in many regions of the country. For this reason, it was important to ensure geographic representation to capture any possible differences in the types of victims being identified and served, availability of services, and challenges and barriers encountered that may be attributed to geographic region. Regions were defined based on the location of the HHS regional offices.
- Type of programThe needs of trafficking victims are complex, comprehensive, and varied. In order to fully understand how well the needs are being met, identify gaps in services, and identify promising practices in serving trafficking victims, it is important to ensure representation of the full spectrum or continuum of services within and across the sites. Efforts were made to identify at least one of each of the following programs in each location for inclusion: case management; outreach and education; housing/shelter; legal services; medical services; mental health/counseling services; social services (education, job training/employment assistance, financial assistance, life/social skills, parenting skills); and substance abuse treatment. In many cases, multiple services are being provided by a single agency or program.
- Population servedVictims of human trafficking may be males or females, adults or children, victims of sex trafficking and/or labor trafficking, and international or domestic victims. An important criterion when selecting sites and programs was ensuring representation of a wide range of victims being served. In some cases, it is not known whether services are being provided to victims of human trafficking or whether the definition of human trafficking used by the program to identify clients is consistent with the Federal legal definition. For example, it is likely that some programs may be serving clients who meet the legal definition of human trafficking but are unaware of this and therefore do not indicate that they are serving trafficking victims. For others, they may be identifying clients as victims of human trafficking who do not meet the legal definition. And finally, others may be serving individuals at risk for human trafficking but who are not actual victims yet. The exploration of how trafficking is defined, how victims are identified, and who is being served was critical to the study and required representation from diverse programs.
- History working with victims of traffickingAnother important criterion used in selecting programs was the extent to which there was a history of working with victims of human trafficking. That is, it was important to ensure the inclusion of programs with direct and substantial experience working with this population who could share their lessons with others.
Initially, 12 geographic locations and associated programs were identified as the possible study sample. A feasibility assessment was subsequently conducted with the programs in the 12 locations to verify available information on services provided and populations served, and to identify programs that did not meet the selection criteria and/or were not interested in participating in the study. Specifically, e-mails and informal calls were made to points of contact for each HHS-funded program and a sample of other identified programs to explain the purpose of the study, verify information already collected on the programs, discuss plans for visiting the programs to conduct informal discussions with staff, and assess their willingness to participate in the study. The feasibility assessment was also an opportunity to identify additional programs to include in the study. Based on the feasibility assessment, 10 locations and associated programs were identified. These locations were:
- Boston, Massachusetts (Region I)
- New York, New York (Region II)
- Washington, DC, and the surrounding metropolitan area (Region III)
- Atlanta, Georgia (Region IV)
- Orlando, Jacksonville, and Tampa, Florida (Region IV)
- Chicago, Illinois (Region V)
- Dallas/Ft. Worth and Houston, Texas (Region VI)
- Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri (Region VII)
- Los Angeles and San Diego, California (Region IX)
- Seattle, Washington (Region X)
A map depicting the number of programs represented in each location and a list of programs participating in the study are provided in Appendix A. Maps of HHS-funded anti-trafficking programs are provided in Appendix B. Based on the maps, the locations and programs included in the study are representative of the HHS-funded programs across the country.