Human trafficking happens every day, in every corner of Wisconsin and our nation. It’s a complicated problem that too often goes unseen and unreported. And it's one that can have a profound impact on the education of a child.
Wisconsin convened a state-level Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (AHTTF), lead by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), to provide solutions and recommendations to state leaders. One of the group's suggestions was to divide the state into seven regions in which anti-trafficking hubs could be established to combat the growing issue.
Outagamie County, Regional Hub 2, was selected as the pilot for the program in 2017, boosted by previous work in the Fox Valley to fight child sex trafficking through awareness and prevention. Its role is to create a delivery system of support to the counties, tribes, and agencies serving youth who are at risk or have already experienced trafficking. The Hub serves 17 counties and three tribes in the area and has already been working to develop response plans and protocols, promote community collaborations, and to train community partners on prevention and awareness.
Abby Persons, MSW, CAPSW, is Hub 2’s Anti-Human Trafficking Specialist. She feels the most exciting part of the work right now is forming connections throughout the region with people who are passionate, experienced, and driven to do this type of work. “There is no single person or agency who is equipped to address the problem by themselves - it really requires a collaborative effort.” Abby was involved in the initial work done in the Fox Valley when she was asked to be a part of the Outagamie County Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST) Partnership in 2015. She is “hopeful that we have the ability as a Region to create a sustainable, trauma-informed and culturally sensitive system to address the needs of youth who are at risk of or who have experienced trafficking.”
Eight counties served by the Hub have been designated as Resource Agencies, working directly with Hub 2 to tailor services to meet local needs and connect with area agencies to foster relationships essential for building systems of care. Next steps for the Hub include working with Resource Agencies to collect preliminary data which will help target resource gaps.