Funding Cuts and other June 2019 Human Trafficking News

Major Cuts in Iowa Funding for Human Trafficking Prevention and Survivor Services

Gretchen-Brown-WaechGretchen Brown-Waech, Human Trafficking Coordinator for the Office of the Iowa Attorney General announced last week that they are anticipating significant cuts in the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding stream. Three years ago, 6 human trafficking programs received first time funding through VOCA and the Crime Victims Assistance Division of the Attorney General’s Office. Since funding for these three-year grants was to end on June 30, 2019, the programs submitted grant applications for continuation.

Due to this unanticipated cutback in VOCA federal funding, all programs have received major funding cuts, and two important human trafficking programs have been totally eliminated including Teens Against Human Trafficking (TAHT), a statewide program based at YSS in Ames, and the Human Trafficking Crisis Intervention Service at the NIAD Center for Human Development based in Mason City. Two existing human trafficking projects were significantly cut including Friends of the Family based in Waterloo and Braking Traffik based in the Quad Cities.

Two small grants were given to two new human trafficking programs that were previously not funded. The two programs include Catholic Charities in Council Bluffs and Chains Interrupted in Cedar Rapids. These programs are survivor service-oriented as opposed to prevention and education. When it became apparent to the Attorney General’s Office that deep cuts would need to be made, priority was given to those who are providing direct services to victims and survivors of human trafficking as opposed to providing primarily outreach and education.

Teens Against Human Trafficking was providing primarily human trafficking outreach, intervention, and education. Although at-risk and foster care kids are a very important and vulnerable population, this prevention-oriented program was eliminated.

Gretchen Brown-Waech also shared that in addition to the human trafficking programs many other VOCA funded programs (eg. domestic abuse intervention and shelter programs) were also severely cut and some were even eliminated. This federal VOCA funding cut is on top of a 23% cut in state sexual assault funding. The Iowa legislature has cut $1.7 million in each of the last two years. The NAHT has been advocating for the restoration of this state funding for the past two years. Many of Iowa’s domestic abuse programs also serve survivors of human trafficking.

Teens Against Human Trafficking to Continue Despite Layoff of Four Staff

Last week, Ruth Buckels, TAHT and YSS Achieving Maximum Potential director, announced that the YSS Teens Against Human Trafficking Program Specialists will be laid off as of June 30 2019. The regrettable layoffs of staff is a devastating blow to this important human trafficking outreach, intervention, and education program. The TAHT program lost its VOCA grant funding, which is its only source of funding other than donations (see story above.)

However, despite the layoff of four staff, Ruth Buckels hopes to continue the school-based program effort with support from school volunteers, parents and the youth themselves. The mission of Teens Against Human Trafficking has been to empower youth to be lifelong ambassadors in the fight against human trafficking. Ruth believes that she and her TAHT staff have initiated a sustainable youth-led movement to help end trafficking in Iowa. The program was designed to initiate and support peer-to-peer education and awareness efforts. The program has also been very successful at intervening in the lives of vulnerable teens who are being groomed for trafficking or who are themselves being trafficked.

Before their jobs end, the staff of Teens Against Human Trafficking are in the process of posting all of their resources including training curriculum, videos, anti-trafficking website youth resources, TAHT handouts and other prevention education information. The TAHT website will have these and other resources available by the end of June. If you would like to view these resources they can be found at the following link.

In a written statement to the schools, Ruth Buckels states that “Teens Against Human Trafficking has been very successful over the past three years at YSS. The program has educated over 32,000 students and 20,000 parents and school personnel throughout Iowa. The program has referred over 700 youth who are at-risk for human trafficking to appropriate services. Though budget cuts have eliminated our Program Specialists as of June 30, 2019, we want you to know that this is in no way reflective of the importance of this work. There are still Iowa youth who are at risk for and currently being trafficked. The issue of human trafficking is very real and very much alive in the state of Iowa and this work must continue. For the sake of the youth in your schools, please continue to seek out more training, information, and resources on human trafficking and sextortion. We encourage you to continue these important conversations around these topics of human trafficking, social media safety, etc.”

The announcement ends with a quote from the 2015 teen from Ankeny High School, Lexi, who founded TAHT. “Teens Against Human Trafficking is an organization by teens, for teens, to save teens. We are young but that doesn’t mean we have to wait to make a difference.


TAHT spoke at the state capitol building last January about their mission.

Iowa NAHT now on Amazon Smile

Katie Kyker the Iowa NAHT Fundraising Committee Chair has received confirmation that the Network is on the Amazon Smile approved charity list. It won’t cost you anything to now donate to the NAHT when you make a purchase on Amazon, they will donate for you. Here is how you can help the NAHT to carry out its mission.

  1. Sign in to on your desktop or mobile phone browser using your Amazon Login.
  2. From your desktop, go to Account & Lists from the navigation at the top of the page, and then click AmazonSmile Charity Lists.
  3. Search and select Network Against Human Trafficking
  4. Visit to complete any Amazon shopping and the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile

Upcoming Global Human Trafficking Conference

The SAFE Flyer (PDF) contains information about an upcoming global conference on human trafficking. The SAFE 2019: 4th Annual Global Conference on Human Trafficking, “Inspire, Innovate, Integrate” will be held November 3-6 in Naperville, IL (close to Chicago). This conference aims to foster significant collaboration (both domestic and international), sharing of information, and discussion relevant to service providers, law enforcement, clinicians, and others working to address human trafficking.

The website with information and for registration is

The call for proposals is also still open.
You can also contact with questions or for more information.

Links to news and other recent media about human trafficking

If you did not have a chance to watch the May 27th PBS Frontline special on human trafficking, it is now available online.

KCCI TV had a feature last week about a 14 year old girl who was able to help break up a sex trafficking ring.