2019 Community Partnership Award Winners
NATIONAL AWARD-WINNING PROGRAMTHOMAS J. MORAN AWARD RECIPIENT
Survivor Advocate Program
Few nations protect the individual rights of their residents as carefully as does the United States. Yet, every day, victims of human trafficking are forced to engage in commercial sex, labor or both through physical, psychological or economic coercion. These individuals are of any age, race or gender, each one trapped in a cycle of exploitation and abuse.
The Los Angeles-based Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (Cast) was founded in 1998 in response to the discovery of 72 Thai workers who had been enslaved and held in debt bondage in Los Angeles County. The first nonprofit created to address the issue of human trafficking in the U.S., Cast provides a continuum of care for victims, including emergency response, counseling and skills training, legal services, shelter, peer-to-peer mentorship and survivor-led advocacy.
In 2018, Cast created the Survivor Advocate Program in partnership with Dignity Health and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to improve the support provided when a victim of human trafficking seeks medical attention. Because health professionals may not immediately recognize that their patients are dealing with trauma beyond their physical injuries, the program embeds a Cast “survivor advocate” within Dignity Health’s participating hospitals to help ensure that no victim of human trafficking is overlooked.
Cast’s survivor advocate is also a survivor of human trafficking, helping this trained professional to play a critical role in supporting victims at the point of crisis and linking them to essential services. Equally important, the survivor advocate provides valuable training to hospital staff, helping them to respond to victims in a trauma-informed way.
“Human trafficking is a complex and often stigmatized crime, and the process of recovery can be long and arduous. Through our leading-edge partnership with Dignity Health, we’re identifying and providing support to more victims in healthcare settings and empowering them to begin their journey to freedom and recovery,” said Kay Buck, Chief Executive Officer for Cast. “Last year, Cast served 1,316 survivors of human trafficking and their families. Today, we are working on a training manual to help other hospitals replicate the Survivor Advocate Program nationwide.”