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Plenary session

The Role of Child Protection/Child Welfare in Building Trafficking-Resistant Communities: Applying a Community-Centered Approach


A trafficking-resistant community is one that makes strategic structural investments to ensure that systems are not only working towards the protection of victims and at-risk youth, but also putting in place practices and policies that prevent trafficking and exploitation from happening in the first place. 

With Minnesota’s Safe Harbor/No Wrong Door system, the state envisioned a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary, and multi-state agency response model in which communities would adopt a three-component approach: services, intervention, and prevention.  This approach not only informs the systems response once harm has occurred, but contemplates the environmental factors and societal norms that contribute to victimization.  

While Child Protection and Child Welfare are typically associated with the systems response once harm has already occurred, these agencies are uniquely poised to leverage their expertise in working with at-risk youth, agency-level collaborations with relevant systems, and a state and local network of community resources in order to help build trafficking-resistant communities. "We Are All Connected" for Systems Professionals is a component of the Men As Peacemakers' Don't Buy It Project providing specialized training, technical assistance, tools, and resources to the agencies and multidisciplinary professionals who play a role in the response to trafficking and exploitation. 

This session will give participants an overview of community-level prevention of trafficking and exploitation, help participants identify and understand the implications of community-level risk and protective factors, and provide practical, implementable strategies for embedding community-centered approach to all levels of an agency’s work.


Sarah Curtiss and Noelle Volin

Sarah Curtiss

Sarah Curtiss

Men As Peacemakers Co-Executive Director

Sarah Curtiss has worked for Men As Peacemakers since 2015. Prior to joining Men As Peacemakers, she spent six-year providing training and technical assistance for tribal communities both nationally and locally as the director of the Sacred Hoop Coalition through Mending the Sacred Hoop.  

Sarah has worked in the anti-violence field for over 15 years and began her career as a women’s advocate for the Dabinoo’Igan shelter and coordinated the Giiwe Mobile team, which provided housing and support to long-term homeless Native families in Duluth, Minnesota. In her work at Men As Peacemakers, Sarah utilizes primary prevention tools to work with communities to systematically shape their environment to prevent violence against women. 

She was recently named one of 21 leaders to participate in the fourth cycle of Move to End Violence, a program of the NoVo Foundation. Sarah is also the Keeper of Traditional Ways (Board President) for the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition and is a founding member of the Native Sisters Society. Her greatest accomplishment, in her opinion, is that she is the mother to a dynamic and funny son named Allan.

Noelle Volin

Noelle Volin

Men as Peacemakers Training and Technical Assistance Director, Don’t Buy It Project

Noelle Volin is the Training and Technical Assistance Director for the Don’t Buy It Project with Men As Peacemakers. Previously, Noelle served as the Staff Attorney and Trafficking Policy Coordinator at Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA).  

As project lead for the Minnesota Statewide Safe Harbor Protocol Implementation Project (funded by the Minnesota Department of Health), Noelle assisted multidisciplinary teams across the state to develop and implement a community-specific systems response to sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. Prior to her time at MNCASA, Noelle was the Staff Attorney and Director of Policy and Education at Breaking Free, a Minnesota-based non-profit serving sexually exploited women and girls. 

She created the Criminal Justice Advocacy Program for victims facing criminal charges as a result of their exploitation and implemented a pro-bono legal clinic to meet the myriad civil legal needs of victims. In addition, Noelle co-facilitated the Offenders Prostitution Program (“John School”) for men charged with solicitation and represented the voices of survivors and advocates on state and federal policy initiatives. 

Noelle is a graduate of Hamline University School of Law and is admitted to practice law in the state of Minnesota.  As a 2006-2008 Rotary World Peace Fellow, she also obtained a Master of Public Administration and Certificate in International Peace and Conflict Studies from the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan.

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This conference is produced under #2016-MU-MU-K153, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and recommendations expressed in this conference are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the U.S. Department of Justice. 
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