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Study of HHS Programs Serving Human Trafficking Victims

Principal Investigator:
Heather Clawson
Caliber, an ICF International Company

Prepared for:
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE)
Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services


This project developed information on how HHS programs are currently addressing the needs of victims of human trafficking, including domestic victims (i.e., citizens and legal permanent residents), with a priority focus on domestic youth.  The project provides in-depth and timely information to help HHS design and implement effective programs and services that help trafficking victims overcome the trauma and injuries they have suffered, to regain their dignity, and become self-sufficient.  Components to the study include a comprehensive review of relevant literature, studies or data (published or unpublished) related to providing services to victims of human trafficking (including domestic victims); nine site visits to geographic areas (e.g., counties) containing at least one HHS- or federally-funded program currently assisting victims of human trafficking; at least three brief reports highlighting interesting, innovative, and/or effective experiences, knowledge, or information resulting from one or more of the site visits; and a final report providing a synthesis of all information obtained under the study.  The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which manages HHS programs serving trafficking victims, is partially funding this study with ASPE.


  • Medical Treatment of Victims of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence and Its Applicability to Victims of Human Trafficking, April 2010
    This Issue Brief examines the procedures and protocols that currently exist for assessing and treating victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in health care settings in an effort to begin evaluating their applicability to victims of human trafficking. This topic was identified at the National Symposium on the Health Needs of Human Trafficking Victims.
  • Evidence-Based Mental Health Treatment for Victims of Human Trafficking, April 2010
    This Issue Brief examines the evidence-based research for treating common mental health conditions experienced by victims of human trafficking. This topic was identified at the National Symposium on the Health Needs of Human Trafficking Victims.
  • Study of HHS Programs Serving Human Trafficking Victims, Final Report, December 2009
    This is the final report produced under this project and includes an executive summary at the beginning of the report. The report summarizes and synthesizes all of the information obtained under the literature review, the site visits, and the National Symposium on the Health Needs of Human Trafficking Victims, and draws upon the issue briefs produced under this project.
  • Human Trafficking Into and Within the United States:  A Review of the Literature, August 2009
    This comprehensive review of current literature on human trafficking into and within the United States focuses on surveying what the social science or other literature has found about the issues of identifying and effectively serving trafficking victims.  A more specific focus concerns the phenomenon of “domestic trafficking” (trafficking involving U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, often within the U.S.), the impact on domestic youth, and the availability and/or effectiveness of services for these victims.
  • National Symposium on the Health Needs of Human Trafficking Victims, Post-Symposium Brief, July 2009
    This Issue Brief presents an overview of the major topics discussed at the National Symposium on the Health Needs of Human Trafficking Victims sponsored by ASPE and held in Washington, DC, September 22-23, 2008.  The brief focuses on the post-presentation discussions and suggestions of participants.  The Brief contains links to the Symposium materials.
  • Addressing the Needs of Victims of Human Trafficking:  Challenges, Barriers, and Promising Practices, July 2008
    This Issue Brief focuses on the needs of victims of human trafficking and the services available to meet those needs.  Additionally, it discusses challenges and barriers to providing services to victims, international and domestic, adults and minors, and highlights innovative solutions to these challenges and promising practices to overcome barriers.  Throughout the brief we make distinctions, where appropriate, between international adult victims, international minor victims, and domestic minor victims.
  • Case Management and the Victim of Human Trafficking:  A Critical Service For Client Success, June 2008
    This Issue Brief focuses on the importance of case management in working with international victims of human trafficking from the point of identification until a victim reaches self-sufficiency.  This brief looks at the characteristics of an effective case manager along with the benefits not only to victims, but also other key stakeholders, including law enforcement and service providers.  This brief also examines the challenges to effective case management and the implications for victim recovery.
  • Treating the Hidden Wounds:  Trauma Treatment and Mental Health Recovery for Victims of Human Trafficking, March 2008
    This Issue Brief focuses on the trauma experienced by most trafficking victims, its impact on health and well-being, some of the challenges to meeting trauma-related needs of trafficking victims, and promising approaches to treatment and recovery.  While this issue brief touches on trauma across human trafficking populations, it has a special emphasis on trauma resulting from sex trafficking of women and girls.
  • Identifying Victims of Human Trafficking: Inherent Challenges and Promising Strategies from the Field, January 2008
    This issue brief focuses on the identification of international and domestic victims of human trafficking in the United States.  Critical to identifying someone as a victim is knowing first who meets the legal definition of a trafficking victim.  This brief presents the inherent challenges to identifying victims based on the legal definition, as well as promising strategies undertaken by law enforcement, service providers, and other organizations to identify and reach victims.
  • Finding a Path to Recovery:  Residential Facilities for Minor Victims of Domestic Sex Trafficking, September 2007
    This issue brief focuses on minors who are victimized by sex traffickers across the U.S.  It is intended to provide practical information about the characteristics and needs of these minors and describe the type of residential programs and facilities currently providing services for this population.  The promising practices discussed here were identified by directors and staff of residential facilities housing and serving minor victims of domestic trafficking, juvenile corrections facilities, programs for runaway and homeless youth, child protective services personnel, and law enforcement.

Project Officers:
David Nielsen and Jerry Silverman