For years, the Klein Frank Foundation President, Beth Klein, an attorney in Boulder has been urging the use of compassionate juvenile assessment tools to identify young victims of human trafficking. And now, these tools are being used by law enforcement and social workers very effectively.
In the 18th Judicial District in Colorado Handle With Care is a trauma-informed collaboration between local law enforcement, schools and the Juvenile Assessment Center in Douglas County. The HWC supports children exposed to trauma and violence through improved communication and community collaboration.
Handle with Care provides the school or child care agency with a “heads up” when a child has been identified at the scene of a traumatic event such as a meth lab operation, domestic violence, shootings, witnessing violent crime. A message is sent that says “Handle Johnny with care.” to flag the child.
Now, teachers are being trained about the impact of trauma on a child’s life and daily supporting interventions are implemented. Providing for rest, a “good-day/bad-day” check in, postponing testing, therapy dogs, are used to help kids cope with their past experiences. Kids are tracked, and care is integrated into their lives.
When a student continues to struggle with behavioral or emotional problems, the counselor or principal can refer the case to the Juvenile Assessment Center. The center employees licensed clinicians to complete family interviews and assessments. After the data is collected, the clinician meets with the youth one on one using motivational interviewing to gather the detail of the stressors in the child’s life. Then, the JAC can make evidence based referrals and recommendations to bring effective resources and support to the child.
There is no question that the JAC prevents kids at risk from becoming victims of human trafficking. And with the new assessment tools designed specifically to identify victims, our state is becoming far stronger in ending this scourge.