Trafficking affects every region of the world, including the United States (United Nations, 2019). In 2020, there were over 10,500 tips of human trafficking reported to the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline, nearly 2,500 of which involved children and youth.
A survey from the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking found that over half of labor and sex trafficking survivors had accessed health care at least once while being trafficked, and nearly 97% of that group indicated they had received no information about human trafficking during those encounters (CAST 2017). These and other studies indicate that health care professionals are too often unprepared to identify and assist trafficked persons.
With support from the CommonSpirit Foundation, we are able to share many of our resources and learnings through national conferences, partnerships, and publications. For example, we published an HT Shared Learnings Manual that describes our program and provides an example policy/procedure. This manual is used by health care systems across the country, and is a key component of the six-week “SOAR for Organizations” training provided by the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Center (NHTTAC).
We partnered with Mercy Family Health Center, a Dignity Health family medicine residency training facility, to support replication of their Medical Safe Haven. This model is designed to provide comprehensive, trauma-informed longitudinal health services to persons who have experienced labor or sex trafficking. The Medical Safe Haven trains physicians and multiplies best practices for this specialized care.
To enhance patient intervention efforts, we partnered with community agencies in Los Angeles County California to pilot the Human Trafficking Survivor Advocate program. In this model, human trafficking survivors respond on-site to support patients who are identified as possible victims of labor or sex trafficking and who agree to speak with a Survivor Advocate.