“As a young teen, I was lured into the life… Not seeing any other path to take other than the one my pimp was offering me, I was about to give up. But then out of nowhere I was given light. I was given a way out… [My Love146 caseworker] gained my trust quickly, so when she told me I was more than a body, I believed her. She was there throughout everything and… still is. [She] helped me understand that I am very much capable of anything I put my mind to.”
— A survivor of child trafficking Love146 has served in Connecticut
Our US Survivor Care program has meant the world to children in Connecticut, children we know by name. Individual donors helped start this from scratch. That’s hope. Now, it will be expanding substantially, thanks in large part to contributions from fines and penalties paid by convicted federal offenders. That’s justice.
Over the next year, our Connecticut Survivor Care program will grow to reach more than 200 youth, serving every region of the state. The unfortunate reality is that this is necessary because there are too many youth in the small state of Connecticut alone that have been hurt in this horrific way. This is why Love146 exists.
“The youth and advocates for youth in Connecticut have been asking us for more services,” said US Survivor Care Program Director Erin Williamson. “They have been telling us that the kind of personalized, trauma-informed care we provide is making a difference in children’s lives. We are thrilled to be able to serve so many more youth.”
Over the past two years, Love146’s Connecticut Survivor Care program has served over 100 youth with one-time Rapid Responses, and 13 youth with Long-Term Services.
BASED ON THE GROWING NEED FOR THIS LEVEL OF HIGHLY SPECIALIZED CARE, OUR SURVIVOR CARE PROGRAM IS RECEIVING CRITICAL INVESTMENTS TOTALING MORE THAN $800,000 ANNUALLY FROM THE CONNECTICUT OFFICE OF VICTIM SERVICES AND THE CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES.
This is multi-year funding and a large portion comes from the federal Crime Victims Fund established by the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), financed by fines and penalties paid by convicted federal offenders. Let that sink in.
These new funds will cover a significant portion of Love146’s Survivor Care program, but we still depend on donors for more than $300,000 to support this effort in the months ahead. It is individual donors who have fueled this program for the past two years, and this generosity will be more important than ever moving forward. It is this funding that allows us to tell a youth: “We won’t close your case. You can always call us, and we will stand by you no matter how long it’s been or what you need.” This is a commitment and passion you can’t legislate, but our donors make possible.
Love146 is one of only a few providers that offers services specific to survivors of domestic minor sex trafficking in Connecticut. In an effort to meet the growing demand for our services, Love146 developed Rapid Responses, one-time interventions that provide children with information, safety planning, and referral services related to human trafficking and sexual exploitation. While Rapid Responses are a critical service, we know that most of the youth we serve need more. They need the specialized trauma-informed Long-Term Services unique to Love146. Over the past year, we were heartbroken to know there were children who needed these services that we didn’t have the capacity to reach. These funds will allow us to expand our Survivor Care team and provide Long-Term Services to 50-60 youth and Rapid Responses to over 200 youth annually.
This funding is an inspiring example of the power of public-private partnerships. These children would not be able to receive the critical services they need without the support of the Connecticut Office of Victim Services and the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, and without the generosity of private individuals who persevered and sacrificed for thoughtful and tenacious solutions. People who say with their actions: “Not in our communities. Not our children.”
“Child trafficking is one of the most awful types of victimization we can imagine, and putting into place services to assist victims is critical,” Department of Children and Families Commissioner Joette Katz told us. “The need is great, and so we are very fortunate to have effective partners in this effort, including especially Love146 and the Office of Victim Services. This is a priority, and it will take working together to have our biggest impact.”
When we talk about collaboration and collective will, this is what it looks like: individual donors, a nonprofit, and government working together and making a difference.
We’ll have 10 new social workers on the ground in Connecticut working with survivors – and it’s so much bigger than those 10 people. As Erin shared, “In one of her darker moments, I was able to sit with a client and tell her: ‘I know you see me and you think I’m only one person, but I have a lot of coworkers at Love146 working hard so I can be here because they care about you. You’ll probably never see them. They can only be there because there are even larger numbers of people who give money and support to Love146 because they care about you. And you’ll probably never meet them either – but when you look at me, I want you to see the hundreds of people behind me who are supporting you, because they care about you.’”