It Takes A Community

Photo taken from www.patch.com

When we say modern-day slavery, we are referring to human trafficking. When anything is connected to slavery, we are talking about taking away one’s identity, dignity, and humanness. Women, men, and children are trafficked across the world. This is a global human rights problem. Human life is priceless, yet traffickers commodify it by placing a price tag on vulnerable individuals for customers to purchase. Human trafficking is a business for the trafficker, having a system of supply, demand, and distribution to keep the business thriving.

Through this inhumane crime, which includes sex and labor trafficking, victims experience abuse of all types, are manipulated, and falsely promised a better life. Victims are left to deal with long-term, lasting traumatic effects. The U.S. government calls on communities to “rescue and restore”. While “rescue” falls within the purview of law enforcement, “restoration” is the job of legal and social service agencies. Restoration moves beyond recovery, ultimately making accessible opportunities to potentially restore individuals to the level of mental, emotional, and physical well-being and economic stability they would have reached had they not been trafficked.

The Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute’s mission is to respond to human trafficking and social justice through teaching, research, and engagement. The Partners Against Trafficking in Humans (PATH) Project is a community-wide, coordinated, transparent, and data-driven research pilot, that is spearheaded by the Institute. The PATH Project draws on the experience of a focused healthcare, outcomes-based model, The Pathways Model, which has been proven to be very successful. The Pathways Model addresses the issue of Ohio’s overall infant mortality rate (babies dying before their 1st birthday), which is one of the worst out of all 50 states. [1] The Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB, housed in Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio, includes documented care coordination, links clients to evidence-based care, and measures the results.[2]

The PATH Project is a modified replica of The Pathways Model, applying the structure and techniques to address the care of individuals who are exploited through human trafficking. The vision for the PATH Project to become an evidence-based model, The PATH Model. PATH works to coordinate existing services moving victims along the continuum of care: victims to survivors, and survivors to thrivers. It is aimed at training the professional community, improving service delivery, and increasing collaboration to remove barriers and fill gaps in human trafficking-related services.

A significant component of The Pathways Model is incentives to support their clients through attaining needed services. With victims of human trafficking, the simple process of prioritizing what is most important for their well-being is curtailed by the absence of day-to-day necessities. The PATH Project sees incentives as a necessary support, at minimum, in the beginning of one’s journey of healing and restoration. Along with others, the Toledo Community Foundation is a generous funder in this effort to value and focus specifically on the victim’s betterment. Additional partners are the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition, our Care Coordinating agencies, and our PATH Approved agencies.

It takes a community to work together in an organized manner to combat an issue while creating and sustaining positive change. Thank you to all of our partners for your hard work and dedication.

Fanell Williams, MSW, LSW is the Project Coordinator for The PATH (Partners Against Trafficking in Humans) Project at the University of Toledo’s Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute. She coordinates the professional community and agencies on improving service delivery and moving victims to survivors and survivors to thrivers through The PATH Project. An active member of the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition and the Lucas County Trauma-Informed Care Coalition, Ms. Williams raises awareness, educates, and trains throughout the community. Ms. Williams has presented and volunteered at the Annual International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference since 2014 at the University of Toledo. She can be reached at fanell.williams@utoledo.edu.

[1] http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2015/08/ohio_ranks_45th_nationally_on.html

[2] http://www.hcno.org/health-improvement-initiatives/pathways.html

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