Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $447,270)
The purpose of this program is to enhance the capacity of applicant organizations to respond to the needs of children and youth who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE)/domestic sex trafficking (DST). This program supports the efforts of eligible applicant organizations to increase the availability of direct support services for children and youth who are victims of CSE/DST and to develop or enhance their mentoring capacity and facilitate outreach efforts. For the purposes of this solicitation, OJJDP defines children and youth as anyone younger than age 18. Under this initiative, OJJDP expects successful applicants to provide mentoring and other needed support services to these youth, to develop or enhance mentoring service models and mentor training based on best practices to focus on the needs of youth who are at risk for or are victims of CSE/DST, and develop or update strategies to recruit and maintain mentors to serve these youth. This program is authorized pursuant to the Department of Justice Appropriations Act 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-141, 132 Stat. 348, 423.
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, in collaboration with the Texas Coastal Bend Border Region Human Trafficking Task Force, will expand the Empowerment Coalition of South Texas (EChO) mentoring program. The mission of EChO is to empower victimized and at-risk youth through the power of mentor/mentee relationships to achieve their personal and educational goals, increase mental and physical health, and decrease delinquency through social support and community connections. The overall goals of the program are to (1) identify and provide direct support services and (2) enhance mentoring service models based on best practices to focus on the needs of youth who are at risk or who are victims of CSE/DST in lower south Texas. Activities will include: recruit, screen and train mentors in evidence-based practices; match mentors and mentees in collaboration with health provider partners; provide closure for mentors and mentees; and recruit successful mentee graduates as peer mentors. The program seeks to recruit and retain 10 new mentors per year and serve 15 mentees per year. Additional supportive services will include health and dental care, food, shelter, financial support, education, and counseling by providers trained in the area of trauma-informed care.