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Rewriting Their Stories: Collaborative Treatment for Trafficking Victims

December 9, 2019


[Narrator] Jade’s
story is a difficult one. [Jade] I ran away from home
when I was 14-years old. I met a 30-year old man, and, at the time I was still a virgin. I didn’t know what sex was. And he gave me some condoms,
and he told me to walk. That’s what I was groomed
to believe my purpose was. [Narrator] Jade is
one of many young people who have lured into the sex trade and forced to stay there. [Lisa] These are children. It’s important that we
look at them as victims, and that we treat them as so. [Konstance] The most horrible word I ever hear is calling a girl a prostitute. They might have been
engaged in prostitution, but they’re not a prostitute. [Brian] There were massive
disconnects in our community with trying to get these
children to the right place. [Lisa] The police were
dropping the kids off after recovering them from the streets. After 16 hours, the kids
are on the run again. [Narrator] Mercy Care teamed up with the Phoenix Police Department and social service agencies to create a public private collaborative
to tackle the problem on many different fronts. [Lisa] We needed a 23-hour assessment place where we can hold the kids. So, we reached out to St. Luke’s Hospital. [Frank] The purpose of our program is to address and deescalate the crisis, be assessed by our nurse practitioner, and then return back to guardian
with increased services. [Lisa] We needed a partner with
the Department of Child Safety and other behavior health providers. [Skye] Streetlight USA is a facility that houses girls who were trafficked. They go to school here, they live here. It is placement. [Staff member of Streetlight USA] Help stimulate the brain and mimic that deep sleep. [Angela] We provide them enhanced services that are trauma-informed. Methods of being able
to relate to the child, understanding their behaviors through a trauma-informed lens. [Narrator] For young
people who have turned 18, the Dream Center offers
a residential program and support that’s
tangible and intangible. [Konstance] Jade didn’t really
want to talk to anybody. She didn’t trust anybody. [Jade] I didn’t know that
this is what I needed. [Narrator] Jade
struggled with her new life at the Dream Center,
running away several times, and even ending up back in jail. [Konstnace] We went to court with her, and she had no idea we
were going to be there. And she just started crying. And that was the first time that somebody has ever been there for
her or fought for her in a very long time. [Narrator] Before the collaborative, only about 20% of the
victims stayed in treatment. Most ran away within 24 hours. [Mark] We now have a retention
rate of about 94%, which is phenomenal. Once we all came together
we were able to talk about the different aspects of
what we see as the police, what behavioral health sees, what Department of Child Safety sees. And now we understood the whole problem, where before we didn’t. [Skye] It really takes a village to intervene in the life of a child
that has been trafficked. For so many service providers
to wrap services around the child it really helps
them to feel wanted, to feel safe. Children who have been
trafficked can recover. It does take a lot of
time, a lot of people. It takes a lot of energy, a lot of love. But, their story can be rewritten. [Narrator] Today, Jade
has completed her GED and is one semester away from receiving her associate’s degree. Her goal is to get a master’s
degree in counseling.

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