The United States Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs has awarded the UC Davis CAARE Center a two-year, $400,000 grant to provide assessment, group therapy, individual therapy and case management for underage youth and youth who are at risk of sexual exploitation.
The grant will provide participants with a mental health screen and interview. Participants will attend group therapy sessions to address trauma-related health symptoms, learn preliminary coping skills and encourage their involvement in future mental health services.
“California has recently been identified as having a disportionate number of sexually exploited youth, especially teens who have been arrested for prostitution or are at risk of re-victimization through prostitution,” said Anthony Urquiza, director of the UC Davis CAARE Center. “Research has repeatedly identified these youth as having a history of child sexual abuse, as well as other types of victimization. By identifying these youth and providing treatment options, we hope we can break the cycle of victimization and offer a pathway to a safer life.”
The grant will fund training for professionals who work with sexually exploited youth and community presentations to raise awareness and shift attitudes about sexually exploited victims and their pattern of victimization. A key focus of the training will be recognizing and treating the mental health issues specific to this patient population.
Underage youth will be identified through Sacramento County Juvenile Hall or referred through community partners of CAARE Center.
Mental health therapists Brandi Liles and Paullette Levellois, and social worker Jenny Landini will be the primary staff for this project. Assistant clinical professor and co-training director Dawn Blacker will be the project coordinator.
The grant was made possible by a program entitled Services for Victims of Human Trafficking and authorized by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008.
The UC Davis CAARE Center provides patient care, teaching, research and prevention initiatives on behalf of abused and neglected children and children and youth identified as high risk. A large part of its mission includes the delivery of quality mental health services to children and youth ages 0 to 21 and their families.