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Press Release  Healey-Driscoll administration awards $1 million to five organizations to address human trafficking

Awardees will implement strategies to support survivors and raise public awareness of sex and labor trafficking in Massachusetts
For immediate release:
  • Department of Public Health

Media Contact   for Healey-Driscoll administration awards $1 million to five organizations to address human trafficking

Katheleen Conti, Assistant Director of Media Relations

Boston — The Healey-Driscoll Administration has awarded $1 million to five organizations to support programs aimed at increasing awareness of human trafficking in Massachusetts and providing outreach and services to those most at risk for being victimized, and people who have experienced trafficking. 

Chosen by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in consultation with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, the organizations will implement strategies to raise public awareness about sex trafficking and labor trafficking in Massachusetts, how to recognize a trafficking situation, and how to respond appropriately. The organizations will also focus on connecting with groups at highest risk for trafficking and providing trauma-informed services to survivors.

Each organization will receive a one-time $200,000 grant, effective from July 2024 through December 2026, to support programs and services with demonstrated commitment to racial equity and informed or led by trafficking survivors. The funded organizations are: Children’s Advocacy Center of Suffolk County; RFK Community Alliance’s Legacy Mentoring program; Justice Resource Institute’s My Life My Choice program; RIA Inc.; and the Vietnamese American Civic Association, Inc.

“Human trafficking has a profound and long-lasting impact on those individuals and communities that are often targeted in these crimes of exploitation,” said Governor Maura Healey. “Combatting human trafficking is a priority of our administration, and this funding builds on our efforts to raise public awareness and to invest in programs that support survivors.”

“Whether behind closed doors or in plain sight, human trafficking is pervasive,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll, who chairs the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Human Trafficking. “Investing in community-based organizations that provide a wide range of services to support survivors, identify victims, and educate the public will strengthen our efforts to combat human trafficking throughout Massachusetts.”

In Massachusetts, the impact of human trafficking has been concentrated on communities and populations that experience a higher burden related to structural racism and economic and social inequities. Traffickers commonly prey on individuals who have low or no income; undocumented immigrants; unaccompanied immigrant children and youth; people of color; homeless and runaway youth; people with limited English proficiency; people with disabilities; members of the LGBTQ+ community; people with substance use disorder; and children and youth who have been involved in the child welfare and/or juvenile justice systems.

“The stigma faced by victims of trafficking, especially sex trafficking, can play a significant role in whether they seek help and how well they can recover from the trauma they have experienced,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh. “By focusing approaches on groups at higher risk of trafficking and helping connect them with appropriately tailored resources, these community-based supports will strengthen the short- and long-term health and well-being of survivors.”

“Across the nation and here in Massachusetts, human trafficking continues to be a serious public health issue that disproportionately impacts our most vulnerable populations, including those living in poverty, children, and undocumented immigrants,” said Robbie Goldstein, MD, PhD, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health. “Human trafficking is a profound violation of the most basic human rights, steeped in violence and coercion that pushes people into an oppressed existence. Public health can – and must – play a key role in identifying and addressing this complicated and multidimensional problem.”

“This grant funding supports the crucial work of community service providers in aiding survivors as they heal and rebuild their lives,” stated Secretary of Public Safety and Security Terrence Reidy. “Forming strong partnerships is key to combating this heinous crime and ensuring everyone’s right to live with dignity, respect, and without fear of abuse.”

In Massachusetts, sharing a border with five states and only a short drive to an international border is conducive for organized trafficking rings that move their victims frequently. Some industries that can lead to trafficking include construction, food, gaming, and commercial fishing. For some immigrants, a combination of factors can make them especially vulnerable to trafficking, including low or no English proficiency, low or no income, inability to work legally, and a lack of familiarity with public systems and benefits.

Data around the prevalence of sex and labor trafficking are known to be unreliable, as they depend on victims overcoming a climate of fear and self-identifying or being identified and assisted by someone in health care, law enforcement, or social services. One barometer is the National Human Trafficking Hotline, (888) 373-7888. In 2021, the hotline received 339 reports from Massachusetts, 134 of which were from victims or survivors of human trafficking and resulting in the identification of 93 cases involving a total of 143 victims. Seventy-two of those cases involved sex trafficking.

Funding for this grant program was authorized by Chapter 268 of the Acts of 2022.

Last year, the Healey-Driscoll administration expanded the scope of what was formerly known as the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence to include human trafficking, given the severity and prevalence of the crime in Massachusetts. The council is now called the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Human Trafficking.


Media Contact   for Healey-Driscoll administration awards $1 million to five organizations to address human trafficking

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