IDAHO — January is human trafficking awareness month, and as the problem continues to rise in Idaho, the Nampa Family Justice Center received a $350,000 grant from the Office for Victims of Crimes to help combat this issue.
"This grant represents a community of people that says we will not tolerate this behavior," Jeannie Strohmeyer, Executive Director, Nampa Family Justice Center said. "When people are walking into our center it is because they want to help, and what a great thing we can now say that we can help them because we have the resources.”
The Nampa Family Justice Center was just one of four organizations across the country to receive this grant.
“When we bring these types of grants in, and we say this is not going to happen in our community we are taking a stand that Idaho will not tolerate this kind of behavior toward people,” Strohmeyer said.
In a recent report, over the past two years, the Idaho Anti-Trafficking Coalition has provided 9,342 Idahoans with direct victim assistance.
Information and Referral - 1,384 counts
Personal Advocacy and Accompaniment Assistance - 1,052 counts
Emotional Support and Safety Assistance - 3,769 counts
Shelter and Housing Assistance - 1,799 nights
Criminal and Civil Justice System Assistance- 109 counts
Organizations including Idaho ATC and the Justice Center are continuing to see these numbers increase.
"We are seeing more and more people come in here disclosing what is happening in their journey as a child, and even now as they are still dealing with it as an adult, so that is absolutely increasing," Strohmeyer said. "Which is again why we are saying we have to do something about this."
The grant is for three years, and the first year will be focused on education and training.
“The way it was written, the first year we are going to hire a trafficking coordinator that is going to coordinate close to 55 different trainings for trafficking and that is going to be for the community to be trained," Strohmeyer said. "It is going to be for our support sytems, law enforcement, courts, prosecuters, and child protection. All the systems that are involved in the process of holding traffickers accountable."
From there they will work on increasing training for the community as well as support for victims and survivors of human trafficking.
"The second two years there is going to be training, but there is going to be direct service money to help them in safe housing, help them with food, help them to get on their feet to self-sufficiency, so then they can become a contributing member of society," Strohmeyer said.
Another key thing this grant will do is allow for a collaborative effort between the agencies fighting this cause including the Justice Center, Idaho ATC, and the Community Outreach Behavioral Services (COBS) organization.
"With this trafficking grant, we are going to be able to collaborate together with the partners that are already doing this work," Strohmeyer said. "And when we collaborate together we are going to do even greater work, and really make an impact in ways we can’t when we are doing it separately."
If you or someone you know is in need of help, call or text Idaho's ATC 24/7 Crisis Hotline at (208) 630-6601.