The grant program was created by the Legislature to provide additional resources to victims.
The Attorney General’s office announced on Monday that nearly $2.5 million in grant funding has been awarded to nine organizations working to provide services for victims of human trafficking in Mississippi.
The Victims of Human Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation Fund was first created by the Mississippi Legislature in 2021. It is managed by a seven-member committee.
Primary funding comes from court fees and fines for crimes that pertain to human trafficking, as well as donations from private organizations. The Legislature appropriated the $2.5 million into the fund during the 2022 session.
“Few crimes rob a person of their very humanity and dignity like human trafficking, but we don’t have to let it steal their future,” said Attorney General Lynn Fitch. “Our community is fortunate to have these nine organizations who work tirelessly with our sisters, daughters and friends as they piece their lives back together. I am grateful for their dedication to help victims transform into survivors, for the Legislature for recognizing this need and authorizing the funding, and for the members of the Victims of Human Trafficking Fund Committee who have put so much time and effort into getting this important new program off the ground. Together, we can create an effective, compassionate end to human trafficking.”
The grant program received 14 total applications for funding.
Recipients of the Victims of Human Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation Fund are listed below along with a brief description on where the funds will be applied provided by the Attorney General:
Canopy Children’s Solutions – $128,197
Canopy Children’s Solutions is Mississippi’s largest non-profit provider of mental and behavioral health, social services and educational solutions for children. Canopy will utilize this grant to provide evidence-based clinical services to youth throughout the state of Mississippi through four of their current solutions. Clinicians will be trained and certified in traumatic skills studies. Additionally, a group of clinicians will be trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR). These trainings will equip Canopy staff with the ability to service youth ages 6-18 who are victims of sex trafficking and labor trafficking in 4 different levels of care.
Center for Violence Prevention -$516,890
The Center for Violence Prevention (CVP) has been operating a specialized residential program since 2017 and a Rapid Response Team since 2018. CVP will add three new Rapid Response Team responders to assist with emergency services for adults and minors. These responders will be active all over the state to assist in victim recovery, screening and service provision. Additionally, CVP will have a specialized attorney to help victims with their complex legal needs to further their recovery. Finally, funds from this award will enhance the services provided by the Tower through the Learning Center that will serve as a hub for skill-building, therapeutic groups, and education for clients accessing support services.
Christians in Action – $83,000
Christians in Action operates the Emergency Shelter for Children, located in Hinds County, providing shelter, medical care, therapy, and all basic services to victims of abuse and neglect, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation. The agency’s Children’s Advocacy Center provides forensic interviews and family advocacy and coordinates its efforts with law enforcement to bring justice to victims of human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and all child victims of crime. The award funding will support on-site therapeutic services in their Children’s Advocacy Center, helping victims of trafficking through the process of healing.
Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence – $107,063
The Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence will expand their ongoing services for survivors of interpersonal violence, including sex trafficking. Funding will support a dedicated counselor for trafficking survivors, operating expenses and dedicated space to continue to operate the valuable services for survivors, increased security measures for emergency shelter operated by this agency that houses victim of domestic violence and sex trafficking, and financial assistance to remove barriers that survivors encounter when attempting to get free from the traffickers and the trafficking environment.
Methodist Children’s Homes of Mississippi – $800,000
Methodist Children’s Homes of Mississippi aims to be a safe haven for transitional age youth victims of sex trafficking by providing shelter, therapeutic treatment, case management, life skills-based groups and linkage to education, employment, and other community-based services. This funding will develop transitional life skill/workforce training for adolescents in their care.
Mississippians Against Human Trafficking – $120,000
Mississippians Against Human Trafficking will use the funds to support the Independent Living Assistance Program, a new program dedicated to aiding individuals considered at risk, who are in transition and need additional support to afford housing, transportation, food and other basic day to day needs. Their goal is to help upwards of 75 individuals yearly who need this additional support and believe this type of partnership is critical to the betterment of the community. The funding will support projects across the board that serve vulnerable individuals, fill gaps in services, and provide resources for agencies doing the real work to protect victims.
Mississippi Families for Kids – $40,000
Mississippi Families for Kids will use the funds to provide training for staff in trauma-informed, evidence-based therapeutic treatment modalities, and to partially cover their clinical director position.
Southern Christian Services – $650,000
Southern Christian Services will create Mississippi’s first safe home exclusively for adolescent survivors of human trafficking. This safe home will allow young survivors to receive specialized and evidenced-based therapeutic services in an undisclosed location for up to two years.
Sunnybrook Children’s Home – $27,800
Sunnybrook Children’s Home will collaborate with Southern Christian Services, and Mississippians Against Human Trafficking in creating Mississippi’s only Safe Home for adolescent survivors of human trafficking.