Human trafficking exists in many forms within San Diego County, including domestic and international trafficking, youth and adult trafficking, and sex and labor trafficking. In 2012, researchers from San Diego State University estimated there were more than 38,000 victims of labor trafficking violations in San Diego County. As a result of a child prostitution ring that was busted in 2011, Project LIFE (Living in Freedom from Exploitation) was created by North County Lifeline in conjunction with the 14-agency North County Human Trafficking Task Force (NCHTTF) led by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. Project LIFE works to heal and support victims of trafficking and to prevent future abuse.
Project LIFE advocates for people of all backgrounds who are victims of sex and/or labor trafficking. Project LIFE’s services include trauma-informed, victim-centered, evidence-based and culturally-respectful 24/7 emergency response, crisis management, safety planning, intensive case management and mental health therapy. Lifeline and community partners also offer a menu of supportive services, including shelter/housing, medical and dental care, obtaining crime victims certification, victim advocacy, literacy/education, job training, employment assistance, life skills training and legal assistance. These services are available to all trafficking victims regardless of age, gender, citizenship and sexual orientation. Project LIFE also educates the community through trainings on human trafficking to raise awareness and to give first responders and the community the tools they need to identify signs and report. The program provides four different prevention series to youth at high risk for trafficking, as well as one-time workshops. In its five years of operation, Project LIFE has provided services to 121 victims, training for 8,169 professionals and prevention services to 605 youth.
North County Lifeline was recently awarded two capacity building grants for the Project LIFE program. The first of these is a three-year federal grant from the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) to fund a collaborative effort of North County Lifeline, the North County LGBTQ Resource Center and The HOPE Project. The combined knowledge and expertise of these organizations is used to more effectively identify, engage and provide culturally appropriate treatment for the under-served male and LGBTQ victim populations.
The second grant is a two-year grant though the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) to serve all forms of labor and sex trafficking countywide through a collaborative effort of Lifeline, GenerateHope, Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition (BSCC), Center for Community Solutions (CCS), Survivor Leader Network of San Diego, San Diego Youth Services (SDYS), and La Maestra Community Health Centers. The CalOES project focuses on streamlining the process of victim identification and referral, efficient coordination with law enforcement, ensuring a consistent level of trauma-informed training among service providers, utilizing a county-wide evaluation tool to better evaluate impact outcomes, and developing a best practice standard for treatment of human trafficking victims in San Diego County.
If you think someone may be the victim of human trafficking, call toll-free: 1-888-3737888. For more information, please contact Alma Detten, firstname.lastname@example.org.