Thanks to a grant from the Office of the Texas Governor, TNOYS is launching a collaborative new project this month with the Texas Center for Child and Family Studies (The Center) to reduce the risk of youth becoming victims of child sex trafficking (CST) and to facilitate recovery for survivors. Through the project, TNOYS will build on its relationships with youth-serving organizations across the state to ensure these providers have knowledge of trafficking and the unique needs of youth who have been trafficked, as well as the resources to properly support them.
“TNOYS members are already working with youth who are victims of — or at high risk for — sex trafficking. We are thrilled to have this support from the Governor’s Office. It is an incredible opportunity to help youth shelters focus in on this issue and enhance their capacity to offer even stronger services and supports to the youth coming through their doors.” – Christine Gendron, TNOYS Executive Director
The project’s multi-pronged approach involves:
- Working with The Center to complete an environmental scan that will identify and assess Texas’ provider capacity for preventing and responding to CST
- Providing training, technical assistance, and consultation services to build the capacity of Texas’ emergency shelters taking foster care placements and providers serving homeless youth to provide specialized services that support recovery for CST survivors
- Building the capacity of Texas’ providers to prevent child sex trafficking from occurring
Child sex trafficking is a major problem in our state, with tens of thousands of young people in Texas estimated to fall victim to the crime each year. This recent report by the University of Texas at Austin goes into depth on the firsthand experiences of youth at risk of, and victims of, sex trafficking.
Because of the size of the problem and this project to address it, TNOYS is excited to have team member Shannon Bloesch, LCCA, leading and dedicated to this effort. Shannon joined the TNOYS team in 2018 to provide targeted support to its initiatives and events, and she has been involved with TNOYS for over 7 years as the Executive Director of member organization Parks Youth Ranch. As she put it,
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to help the TNOYS network in its service of survivors of child sex trafficking. As a previous Executive Director of an emergency shelter, knowing that our children often fall prey to sex trafficking is a harsh reality. Together, we can make a difference by providing training and technical assistance for raising awareness as well as trauma informed services.”
All of these efforts will improve the safety, health and well-being of the most vulnerable children of Texas.