Mississippi News

Fitch announces $2.5 million going to fight human trafficking

Credit Attorney General Lynn Fitch news release

Attorney General Lynn Fitch today announced that nearly $2.5 million from the Victims of Human Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation Fund will be distributed to nine organizations who help human trafficking victims become survivors. The recipients of the funding are below.

“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.”

More information on the application and solicitation, Fund rules, and other information related to this distribution and the Fund in general can be found on the Attorney General’s Office website. In total, the Fund received 14 applications with projects totaling over $6.1 million.

Recipients of Victims of Human Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation Fund

Canopy Children’s Solutions, which received $128,197, 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, which received $516,890, 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, which received $83,000, 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, which received $107,063, 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, which received $800,000, 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, which received $120,000, 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, which received $40,000, 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, which received $650,000, 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, which received $27,800, will collaborate with Southern Christian Services, and Mississippians Against Human Trafficking in creating Mississippi’s only Safe Home for adolescent survivors of human trafficking.

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