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Structuring Your Sex Trafficking Protocol Team

Guest Blog by Sarah Florman | Trafficking Policy Coordinator at SVJI @MNCASA

In the earlier parts of this blog series, we spoke about some of the important things that SARTs might need to think about if they are considering adding sex trafficking to their work. If you’re interested in developing a community response to sex trafficking, one of the other main things your team will want to consider is the best way to structure the work.  Sexual exploitation and trafficking have much overlap with the normal mission and scope of SARTs, but every community is unique due to demographics, financial considerations, relationships, and perceived need.

Because the response will include some of the same disciplines included in regular SART work, you may choose to do one of the following:

  • Form a subcommittee of existing SART, and including trafficking-specific disciplines in this subcommittee. This committee would loop back to the main SART but would be the primary decision makers around policy, protocol, and practice changes related to trafficking.
  • Incorporate trafficking protocols into the work of the regular SART, either inviting new disciplines into the SART or finding another mechanism for including the additional disciplines needed for a response to youth victims/survivors. This doesn’t have to be at every meeting. Some teams focus on trafficking at a regular interval, such as once a quarter.

Some teams may also want to consider doing this work outside of the SART.  This could involve forming a new, standalone team, or working with an existing multidisciplinary team in your community.  Many child protection agencies and other youth-serving organizations use multidisciplinary teams for screening, case consultation, or wraparound services.  If your community has a team like this, it may be the logical place to start developing a sex trafficking response. Also, if sex trafficking has few reported cases in your direct community, it might be beneficial to connect with a broader regional team to better utilize resources.

The team structure you choose will depend on several factors, including the capacity and membership of your SART, community awareness and interest in the issue of sex trafficking, the type of protocols you want to develop, and if there are funding restrictions on doing this sort of work. As with the systems-change SARTs we normally work with, we do recommend that any structure you may choose to do follows an intentional process that allows for assessing the needs of the community, making change, and measuring the impact of that change. It is also important to always think about how your team will hear from victims/survivors and/or youth directly to help guide and shape this process.  Although it may take some extra time, effort, and relationship building, developing your community’s response to sex trafficking is an exciting undertaking with the potential for an immense positive impact.

This three part series on sex trafficking just scratched the surface on the intersections of SARTs and trafficking/exploitation work. Please reach out to us here at the Sexual Violence Justice Institute to talk about what might work (or not work!) for your community when it comes to a collaborative response. It is also important to connect with your local and state/territory resources, such as your sexual assault coalition, to find out opportunities and information specific to you!

For more information or ideas on how to incorporate trafficking into your SART work, contact svji@mncasa.org