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DHS funds network of services for sexually exploited youth

January 27, 2014

Karen Smigielski

PDF version of news release

In response to the devastation of sex trafficking, the Minnesota Department of Human Services and its partners will soon provide an array of services to youth who have been victims of sex trafficking.

With $1 million in funding from the department, these organizations, under two-year contracts with the department, will provide emergency shelter, transitional and supportive housing specific to the needs of sex-trafficked minors. They will include on-site support services, appropriate security, assistance from survivors of sex trafficking, and collaboration with law enforcement and juvenile justice systems.

“This work will help carry out the intent of the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Youth law,” said Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. “We recognize that sexually exploited youth are victims of horrendous crimes. We want to do everything in our power to ensure they get the services they need to recover.”

The organizations are:

  • Breaking Free, which will provide transitional housing in St. Paul
  • Heartland for Girls, which will provide supportive housing in Benson, Minn.
  • Life House, which will provide emergency shelter in Duluth
  • The Link, which will provide emergency shelter in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

“These four organizations have a long history of working with youth and some with sexually exploited youth,” said Jesson. “We have every confidence they will provide the critical services to meet the needs of these youth to help them move forward toward healthy futures.”

The organizations will model their work after the guidance of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s No Wrong Door: A Comprehensive Approach to Safe Harbor for Minnesota’s Sexually Exploited Youth report.

This work is a collaborative effort among the Department of Health, which hired a statewide director and will hire six regional navigators; the Department of Public Safety, which will provide training on the new approach and best practices for working with victims of sex trafficking; and the Department of Human Services, which, in partnership with these organizations, will develop models for shelter, foster care, and transitional and supportive housing for sexually exploited youth.


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