Kentucky receives $1 million grant to prevent child trafficking

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Kentucky Department for Community Based Services has received a $1 million federal grant to prevent child trafficking and to provide support to survivors.

DCBS, an agency of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), received the Improving Outcomes for Child and Youth Victims of Human Trafficking award as part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s $101 million national investment to combat and research human trafficking through specific programming to enhance local and state services.

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Gov. Andy Beshear said the three-year grant will help state government work with its social services and law enforcement partners to provide critical resources.

“I have been fighting human trafficking – and especially trafficking of children – since I served as Kentucky’s Attorney General,” he said. “As Governor, I remain committed to protecting children and youth and to serving those who have been victimized by this heinous crime. This grant will help us to seek justice and create a well-supported network of services that support survivors and promote healing.”

Kentucky is one of only four states to receive DOJ’s Improving Outcomes for Child and Youth Victims of Human Trafficking program award. The grants will enhance coordinated, statewide approaches to at-risk populations to improve outcomes for children and youth who are victims of human trafficking.

CHFS Secretary Eric Friedlander said the grant will improve outcomes for children and youth who are victims of human trafficking by strengthening policy and programming.

“Human trafficking affects everyone, but research shows that minority youth may be specifically targeted, and the coronavirus pandemic has magnified race-based inequities,” he said. “We have to see human trafficking as both a crime and a social justice issue. This grant comes at a perfect time to allow us to work with an array of multi-disciplinary child-serving professionals to address human trafficking and its oppressive repercussions on individuals and our society.”

DCBS Commissioner Marta Miranda-Straub said the grant will provide long-lasting positive outcomes by creating new tools for her staff and community providers who serve trafficking victims.

“I am so proud of our protection and permanency team for their trauma-informed, sensitive approach to fighting the devastating crime of human trafficking,” she said. “With this grant, we are developing a groundbreaking new rapid screening tool for child labor and sex trafficking in a child welfare setting. This will be the first of its kind, and it will help us determine the best services for these youth.”

Miranda-Straub said her department is fortunate to partner on this project with Catholic Charities of Louisville’s Bakhita Empowerment Initiative, which provides assistance and case management to survivors of human trafficking and educates the general public.

“Through our collaboration with Catholic Charities, we not only have a strong referral partner, we will have a better alliance of experts who can refine our new training component so it can have the most positive impact on youth now and years into the future,” she said.

The project will benefit youth across the state.

For more information about DCBS’ child welfare programs, click here.