Safe Harbor Bush Fellowship
Summary Report of State Site Visits
Background and Methodology:
In 2011 the state of Minnesota passed a Safe Harbor Law modeled after New York state’s law. This law decriminalizes “prostitution” charges for youth under the age of 18, increases the penalties for the buyers, added the term “sexual exploitation” into the state’s child protection code and created a state-wide “Safe Harbor Committee” to develop a new multidisciplinary response for sexually exploited youth.
The state departments of Health, Human Services and Public Safety formed a “Safe Harbor Committee” made of many local stakeholders. Although the committee and the planning process were excellent there were some key pieces missing from the work mainly due to lack of resources and dedicated staff time and these were identified by Holger-Ambrose as:
- conducting site visits with other states, communities and cities that have already implemented multidisciplinary responses for sexually exploited youth and/or who have passed Safe Harbor Laws to determine how they implemented them (including law enforcement, court systems, health and social services, child welfare systems and/or juvenile justice systems and emergency shelter and housing programs);
- gain input from victim-survivor-leaders of sexual exploitation into how they believe a new response for sex trafficked minors be implemented;
- identify best practice assessment tools and training curriculums (for youth and staff);
- and a review of academic research and an implementation plans for operationalizing the new response developed by the Safe Harbor Committee.