OVC TTAC offers great resources and trainings to develop professional skills in the victim services field.
Victim service professionals interested in pursuing their professional education related to responsibilities for serving victims of crime may apply for scholarship awards. For approved applicants, this program provides up to $1,000 for individuals and up to $5,000 for multidisciplinary teams of victim service professionals seeking continuing education opportunities.
A key feature of supporting survivors in attaining long-term success is access to a reasonable and sustainable standard of living, with opportunities for economic empowerment.
Economic empowerment refers to the economic strengthening of survivors, equipping them with the skills, resources, and confidence to financially support themselves and their families in the short- and long-term. The workplace is a key environmental factor in our mental well-being and health. Economic well-being impacts personal identity, self-esteem, and social recognition. Moreover, economic options contribute to social integration, including social contact, social context, time structure, and social identity, all of which affect people’s health and mental health status.
For many trafficked persons, economic opportunities—whether a job or some form of income generation like a micro business—are their primary focus, from immediately after exiting a trafficking situation on through the longer-term healing process. Comprehensive programs should include an economic empowerment component, either through vocational training and job placement, business training, or startup support.
Resource: Sabre-Passport to Freedom
A corporate responsibility program to help fight human trafficking and provide support to victims and survivors through survivor scholarships for post-secondary education and vocational training.
Youth survivors of trafficking may express interest in enrolling in school, while adult survivors may wish to enroll in GED programs or college. Depending on the nature of the survivor’s needs, assistance may be required. Consider support in terms of college counseling, resume building, personal statement and essay writing, and financial support for college applications. Assistance in filling out the FAFSA for financial assistance and scholarship opportunities, attempting to acquire previous educational records, and ensuring any needed language assistance at the educational institution are also crucial.
Skills Training and Job Placement
Job placement involves seeking out appropriate, long-term, and safe employment options for trafficking survivors and helping to prepare and place them with partner employers. Ideally, the service provider should seek to provide comprehensive, wraparound case management that addresses the range of employment and training needs, including transportation, child care, placement in skills training, and job placement through pre-existing pipelines with appropriate employer partners. Follow up check-ins with survivors post-placement are critical to ensuring the long-term success of the program and preventing re-victimization.
Victim service providers have secured job placements in various fields of work, ranging from low-skill lower income industries to professional career tracks. Common placement includes hotels, restaurants, and shops, as well as positions such as a hairdresser, call center operator, nanny/babysitter, cleaner, cook/baker, factory worker, agricultural worker, office assistant, photocopy shop assistant, housekeeper, and more. It is important when considering job placement strategies to determine if the survivor is comfortable with work that is similar to the work she/he performed when in the trafficking situation. In some cases, this may be the only professional experience the survivor has, making it both the best chance at employment and a high risk of re-victimization. If appropriate, self-employment opportunities using the same skills should be considered. Additional safety planning with the survivor and, if appropriate, the employer should include a plan for addressing flashbacks or other triggers in the workplace. It is important to consider the survivor's desires and needs and what job placement options would be optimal for her/his future.
Need Employment Assistance? Contact an American Job Center
American Job Centers (AJC), also known as One-Stop Career Centers, provide a range of employment and training services, including job search assistance, access to local labor market information, workshops on resume building, case management, and referral to training providers. There are more than 2,000 centers around the country, which are open to all, and offer a range of services to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and other work-authorized individuals. It is important to note that AJC staff are trained to serve the general public and are not specialists in working with trafficking survivors; however, through its Workforce One Web site, the Department of Labor offers guidance and resources to AJCs on providing services to survivors of trafficking in persons. Victim service providers may contact their local AJC for more information about the specific employment assistance services that are supported. To find the nearest AJC, visit http://www.servicelocator.org/.
OVC TTAC’s webinar The Path to Self-Sufficiency: Innovative Partnerships to Assist Human Trafficking Victims in Obtaining Employment focuses on the Public Workforce System and the resources available through its One Stop Career Centers
The Department of Labor also provides several important Web-based resources for job-seekers, including www.careeronestop.org/, www.mynextmove.org/,
and www.myskillsmyfuture.org/. These tools are designed to help people navigate career and training decisions.
Successful, sustainable, and appropriate job placement strategies involve helping the survivor overcome a range of challenges and obstacles. Some challenges stem from the mental and physical impact of trafficking (e.g., stress, anxiety, traumatization, lack of trust), while others are linked to the individual trafficked person’s situation and characteristics (e.g., educational level, job readiness, and work experience; cultural or linguistic barriers; lack of confidence). Still other challenges are attributable to the broader social and economic environment (e.g., limited job opportunities and competitive labor markets, preconceptions of employers, inflexible resume screening systems). It is important when choosing job placement to discuss the range of options and considerations with your client.
Skills training can help survivors learn key skills to meet an employer’s or an industry’s specific needs. Skills training can be delivered through victim service provider organizations, American Job Centers, community colleges, apprenticeship programs, Job Corps centers, or work sites, depending on the employer.
It is important to develop relationships proactively with appropriate potential employers well in advance of job placement efforts. When selecting employers to approach, key factors to consider include: (1) That the workplace provide a welcoming and safe environment, where unique needs and challenges faced by survivors can be accommodated; (2) Access to long-term opportunities for growth within the business or beyond; and, (3) The employer should actually need new workers; employer partners acting out of a sense of charity will be less reliable in the long run than those motivated by a sustained business imperative. It is important that the survivor not be placed in a situation where she/he will be used as an example of the employer’s corporate social responsibility commitment, or hired to effectively be put on display.
Example of Partnerships With Private Sector
Many victim service providers develop partnerships with the private sector to support their clients. For example, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST LA) is partnering with Paul Mitchell and some local employers for placement of survivors after completion of a professional training program.
Many survivors go on to work for victim service providers as case managers, counselors, and peer-to-peer mentors and coaches. For survivors looking to build their professional capacity as a service provider, there are several conferences and trainings both on- and offline, many of which can be found at the Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center as well as the OVC National Calendar of Events.
For additional information and tools, visit the Resource page for Section 4.4 Comprehensive Victim Services.