In order to continue to expand its ability to address unique community needs as well as prevention services, the Delaware County Juvenile Court has obtained a grant from the Supreme Court of Ohio, in partnership with the Governor’s Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force and the Office of Criminal Justice Services, to create Safe Harbor Programs to address trafficked minors. The funds received by the court are part of a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime.
The Delaware County Juvenile Court was one of only two counties selected to receive the funding, $76,707 for the first year and renewable for subsequent years. The funding will allow the court to hire a Safe Harbor Programs coordinator to oversee the implementation of Safe Harbor programming, which will include cultivating and maintaining resources to serve known trafficked minors as well as developing preventative programming to be delivered to youth who are identified as at-risk for trafficking or who are already engaging in risky behaviors which can leave them vulnerable to exploitation.
The court has recently encountered an increase in human trafficking as well as an increase in risky behaviors such as running away and meeting unknown adults online.
“Although our court has not seen the number of human trafficking victims present in more urban areas, we recognize that it is only a matter of time before these cases become more prevalent in our system,” said Judge David Hejmanowski. “Additionally, there are unique challenges in serving human trafficking survivors that this grant will enable us to better address going forward. Implementing this grant is just one more way that the court is striving to meet youth where they are and address the unique needs of each case, seeing youth as individuals.”
The grant specifies that the implementing court must commit to a multi-disciplinary approach which will bring community partners together to address the individual needs of trafficked minors as well as to consider better ways to provide preventative services. In submitting the grant application, the court received letters of support from Syntero, the Delaware County Department of Job and Family Services, and the United Way of Delaware County.
“The court looks forward to working through these partnerships to not only strengthen service to trafficked minors but to strengthen our community collaborations to better serve all youth,” said Court Administrator Katie Stenman.
Submitted by the Delaware County Juvenile Court