NEPA Healthcare Foundation awarded Victims Resource Center (VRC) a grant for 2018 to support the work of the NEPA Task Force Against Human Trafficking, of which they are a founding member. VRC hired Carol L. Lavery as a consultant to support the Task Force activities.
In April 2016, a Call to Action Conference was organized by an adult survivor of human trafficking. In May 2016, this regional task force was formed to begin to address the issue. It is made up of a cross section of professionals from victim services, law enforcement, prosecution, social services, medical, foster care, children and youth agencies, faith community and civil legal attorneys.
The geographical area the Task Force representation covers is the nine counties in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The mission is to establish and incorporate best practices to identify and serve victims and at-risk populations, investigate and prosecute perpetrators, and increase overall awareness for the purpose of preventing and eliminating exploitation and human trafficking, and assisting victims suffering from these crimes to achieve restoration and justice.
There are subcommittees of the task force that are: raising awareness in the community by developing public awareness materials; presenting educational programs in the community; developing screening tools for identification of victims; developing resource lists for use by professionals; and developing a needs assessment to evaluate needs of victims, current services and existing and future gaps.
The Task Force is co-chaired by Tom Mosca from St. Therese’s Church Social Justice Committee in Luzerne County and Michele Minor Wolf, executive director of Victim Intervention Program in Wayne County.
The mission is that human trafficking victims will benefit by a more aware community that understands the problem, begins to identify victims and makes informed reports to law enforcement. Services for these victims can then be designed to meet the specific needs of this population of victims. The community will benefit by not having its most vulnerable children and adults recruited and misused for monetary gain.