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Guidelines for Building a Response/Referral Network

Prior to conducting outreach, there need to be safety and service protocols in place with law enforcement and social service providers. When conducting direct outreach, the goal is to provide an implicit promise to potential victims that help will be available in their time of need. Providing appropriate follow through builds trust with the target population.

This is often done as a safety precaution to protect the outreach workers as well as the potential victims. Instead, the agency will provide a non-trafficking related service, like a drop-in center, information regarding workers’ rights, or health and hygiene information. If the agency is promising non-trafficking related services, however, those services should be in place prior to conducting the outreach.
A single agency or program may be able to meet some of the needs of a trafficking victim, but to best serve that individual, it is best to work with a network of service providers. A multidisciplinary team using a comprehensive services model is an evidence-based practice that has been shown to improve outcomes for victims. , It is crucial to develop relationships with service providers such as health clinics, refugee service agencies, labor rights networks, and culturally-specific organizations that can help serve the unique needs of foreign national victims. In addition to building relationships, prioritize training any unfamiliar groups on working with trafficked persons.
  • The needs of a victim can include the following
    • Case management
    • Child-specific (dependent) assistance
    • Clothing, food, housing (emergency, transitional, permanent)
    • Criminal Justice Advocacy
    • Crisis intervention
    • Cultural community/support
    • Dental care (emergency and long-term)
    • Education/GED classes, workforce development
    • Employment
    • English as a Second Language (ESL) classes
    • Family reunification
    • Identification documents
    • Legal representation (immigration, criminal, civil)
    • Medical care (emergency and long-term)
    • Mental health care (emergency and long-term)
    • Personal Advocacy
    • Public assistance benefits
    • Safety and safety planning
    • Sexual assault trauma services
    • Substance abuse services
    • Translation and interpretation
    • Transportation
  • See examples of referral networks/continuums of care/matrixes of services.
Law enforcement may need to be trained on how to recognize and respond to human trafficking if they have not already received training (in Ohio, all law enforcement officers are mandated to receive human trafficking training). Law enforcement can help your agency by helping victims leave a dangerous situation, or by being a referral for victims who have already left their trafficking situation. Law enforcement may rely on your agency to assess victims and provide for basic needs.
In addition to developing relationships with service providers and law enforcement, develop relationship with organizations familiar with the ethnic group or language community of your target population. For example, when conducting outreach to potential labor trafficking victims in agricultural settings, partnering with a migrant farmworker outreach program can help build trust with the target population, and should inform how you conduct direct outreach. Critical partners could include health outreach programs, community legal programs, sexual assault response teams, educational programs, churches, immigration assistance programs and culturally-specific organizations.
Obtain technical assistance from experienced agencies and coalition leaders: Ohio has several coalitions doing outstanding working in their communities regarding serving victims and survivors and doing direct outreach. To learn more about what they do, consider reaching out to the following: