Advocacy flows from our mission to "...strategically confront slavery in our state." This effort includes training and education but goes beyond to change the way Tennesseans think and act about human trafficking.
Advocacy "fixes" systems that allow human trafficking to flourish. Effective advocacy also leads to increased referrals of victims. We have double the referrals in 2016 as in 2015 not because the problem is getting worse but because victims are increasingly being identified and referred for services.
In recent years, we:
· Trained a network of service providers who understand trauma-informed care and the unique needs of survivors with complex trauma.
· Helped build, and continue to strengthen, a statewide system of care in collaboration with state officials and similar organizations in other parts of the state (our Single Point of Contact Partners.)
· Supported legislation that gave Tennessee the strongest laws in the nation at combating human trafficking.
· Built relationships with and education of key legislators around this issue, equipping them to write and sponsor laws addressing human trafficking
· Participated, as founding members, in a first-of-its-kind regional meeting developing a strong, unified human trafficking response throughout the south. This group meets bi-annually and confers by phone more frequently.
· Spoke about our model in the White House, US Capitol and at the United Nations and trained groups from around the country to equip them to work with efficacy in their region.
· Saw the introduction of Dept. of Children’s Services (DCS) requiring referral policy of all minor trafficking victims in middle Tennessee to End Slavery Tennessee within 24 hours
Currently we are building on all this. as examples. We’re:
· Consulting with TBI on development of specific tools that will improve victim identification and access to services, like a Universal Assessment Tool and Best Practices Manual for first responders
· Providing direction and making recommendations to legislators on the process of referral and aftercare of victims of human trafficking
· Growing a strong network of trained, trauma informed service providers in order to provide the most specialized and robust services possible for each survivor entrusted to us
· Hosting the next southern region meeting for service communication and collaboration across state lines
· Meeting with DCS to further define protocols and recommendations for effective collaboration as well as with currently contracted agencies to provide specialized housing options for trafficked minors
Our years-long efforts changed the conversation about human trafficking from disbelief to understanding and response.