Proactive Outreach for the Health of Sexually Exploited Youth

Improving the identification and treatment of Milwaukee youth involved in human trafficking

Full Project Name:Proactive Outreach for the Health of Sexually Exploited YouthPrimary Community Organization:Children's Mental Health Services—Wraparound MilwaukeePrimary Academic Partner:Wendi Ehrman, MD, PediatricsCo-Investigator:Tia Medley, APN, PediatricsAward Amount:$158,276
Award Date
January2014
Project Duration:24 months

Project Description Narrative:


Nationally, Milwaukee has been identified as a hub for human trafficking. However, the local law enforcement and justice system only identifies a small number of children as victims of human trafficking. In addition, research indicates that victims of human trafficking often have a wide variety of physical and mental health needs, yet area health care practitioners indicate a dearth of knowledge regarding how to accurately identify, examin, and treat these victims.

Following an independent review by the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission, which indicated a need to improve the processes to identify and support victims of human trafficking, project partners aim to improve the identification and treatment of youth involved in human trafficking by developing policies and procedures to not only identify potential victims, but improve and provide for their comprehensive health and mental health care needs.

Community partners:
Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, Rethink Resources, Wraparound Milwaukee – Children’s Mental Health Services

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


• Conducted community listening sessions across Milwaukee to ensure diverse voices were contributing to and determining how to address service gaps; conducted presentations and trainings on the protocols and resource guide, providing technical assistance and informational sessions to over 500 medical and mental health providers, advocates, and other service providers

• Reviewed existing databases of commercially sexually exploited (CSE) youth and developed a profile of Milwaukee youth involved in trafficking to support the ability of providers to identify youth

• Created protocols and best practice guidelines to assist medical, mental health, and service providers in identifying youth who may be vulnerable to trafficking

• Vetted and audited community agencies, developing a comprehensive list of local resources available for trafficked youth to support the ability of providers to connect victims to services

• Presented project results at various meetings such as Reviving Justice Conference and National JUST Conference, and participated in media outreach on the issue in interviews with The Guardian and Milwaukee Magazine

• Leveraged project results to develop, propose, and receive a $238,796 award from the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment to build on and expand the work done through this project to create transformative change for the community

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