Devereux Taskforce Helps Youth Survivors of Sex Trafficking Along Road to Recovery
By Tobin Ernst -
Thursday Aug 12, 2021
One hundred youth survivors of sex trafficking are on the road to recovery, thanks in part from Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Arizona and its Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) program.
The Arizona nonprofit, serving Maricopa and Pima Counties, reaches the milestone on International Youth Day – which is observed annually on August 12 and is an initiative that celebrates the qualities of young people and recognizes the challenges today’s youth face. The International Labor Organization (ILO) reported that the business of human trafficking globally generates an estimated $150 billion in profits annually. In Arizona, 234 cases of human trafficking were reported in 2019, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
“This is just the beginning for youth who are forging a future toward a happier and healthier life,” said Devereux Arizona Executive Director Yvette Jackson, LMSW, DBH. “These victimized and exploited youth survivors participated in our therapeutic recovery services, initiated by a generous grant last year, and they are thriving.”
In 2020, Devereux Arizona was awarded a $25,000 grant from the Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation to support the organization’s CSEC program. The funding is being used to enhance Devereux’s whole-person treatment model by training the organization’s 400 employees on how to identify, assess and assist individuals, ages 5 to 29, who have experienced emotional, physical and sexual trauma as a result of commercial sexual exploitation. Funds are also being used to purchase educational materials and other resources to support youth enrolled in the CSEC program and help with the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
“The grant’s impact helped build our CSEC program, created a survivor advocate position and offered Reaching Independence through Survivor Education (RISE) groups. RISE provides education around topics about the cultural issues youth face, including internet safety, peer pressure, hygiene, sexual health and teen dating violence,” said Michael Nelson, Devereux Arizona director of outpatient and integrated services. “Having our survivor advocate co-facilitate the RISE curriculum, along with a clinical coordinator, has been a tremendous value.”
Devereux Arizona’s CSEC program offers outpatient and residential services. Among the 40 youth survivors, the majority have been served through outpatient services, which are provided in the family’s home or in-office, and are designed to preserve a child’s current placement, process trauma in a safe environment, build parenting skills, empower families to use natural supports, and build on youth and family strengths.
In addition, youth are served through the organization’s Scottsdale-based Residential Treatment Center (RTC). The RTC, situated on a 10-acre campus, is a 52-bed center where youth between the ages of 5-17 live and attend school while receiving treatment for emotional, mental, behavioral and/or substance abuse challenges. Classified as a Level 1 therapeutic facility, the RTC is Arizona’s only facility providing youth with specialized programming in a safe environment in which to heal.
“Both services are desperately needed,” added Nelson. “Being one of a few organizations in the state of Arizona that offers CSEC specialty services, we receive several referrals from the community on a weekly basis needing survivor advocate and RISE group services.”