Progress Reports on Iowa’s Fight to End Trafficking

There continues to be a lot of anti-trafficking news here in Iowa. Today’s blog post will help keep you up to date. If you have anti-trafficking news, events, trainings, meetings, or resources to share across Iowa, please send to gbelitsos55@gmail.com.

100+ Women Fund Iowa City War on Trafficking

The NAHT Board of Directors gratefully accepted a donation of $8,500 from the 100+ Women Who Care, Hawkeye Chapter. This philanthropic organization specified that the grant funds be used to advance the fight against human trafficking in Iowa City and Johnson County. Blog readers may recall that in June five traffickers were arrested in this part of our state, most of whom were charged with sex trafficking minors in hotels. They are now being held in federal custody in Polk County awaiting trial.

The NAHT has subcontracted the $8,500 to the Johnson County Human Trafficking Coalition (JCHTC). This small but growing coalition has agreed to affiliate with the Iowa NAHT. The NAHT will serve as the fiscal agent, and the JCHTC has agreed to carry out the following projects:

  • Establish a hotel/motel employee training project in Johnson County—hold train-the-trainer two hour sessions for volunteers in Johnson County.
  • Offer healthcare trainings. There are a lot of healthcare professionals in Iowa City. JCHTC plans to provide training for school nurses who are on the front lines as well as other healthcare professionals.
  • Rent human trafficking awareness billboards in Johnson County.
  • Hawkeye football game—Explore ways to sponsor a game to gain PR and handout trafficking information. The stadium has a great PA/Video board—possibly show a one minute trailer from Any Kid, Any Where or Gridshock.
  • Hold a human trafficking conference in Iowa City next April 2020.
  • Help to form a student group/club at University of Iowa similar to the ISU Student NAHT.
  • Implement the distribution of rescue stickers throughout Johnson County.
  • Begin to provide human trafficking education and awareness in local public schools.
  • Partner with local Rotary Clubs to carry out these projects.

If you are interested in joining the JCHTC or volunteering to help with this project, contact Shannon Findlay at shannon-findlay@uiowa.edu or Alison Harmon at alison-harmon@uiowa.edu.

1200 Law Enforcement Officers Trained in FY2019

steffani-simbricTwo years ago, the Iowa legislature enacted legislation that supported the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in employing an instructor to provide training regarding human trafficking throughout the state. Steffani Simbric was hired in November 2017 to fulfill this role. She was very well qualified and is doing a great job. Below is her progress report.

Training at the Academy
The Iowa Law Enforcement Academy is very dedicated to providing the best possible training at all levels, including in its academy classes. Steffani Simbric teaches a 3 hour block of instruction labeled human trafficking. In addition, the Academy’s legal instructor employed at ILEA goes over the Iowa Human Trafficking and related code sections. This would likely total another 4 hours of instruction specific to human trafficking. However, the ILEA also teaches 40+ hours related to working with victims of other related crimes (sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, trauma, etc.) These courses are important and serve as a solid foundation for understanding human trafficking.

As someone with almost 20 years of service to crime victims, Steffani came to the Academy a year and 8 months ago asking questions about the Academy’s related curriculum. She tells the Network that after reviewing all the training materials, without any doubt, the Academy is on the right track. One needs to remember this is basic training for new officers. In addition, the Academy is constantly striving to stay on top of teaching best practices and improve programming.

Updates on Numbers Trained
In FY 2019, Steffani Simbric has trained more than 1,200 professionals (including officers in the academy classes) including ILEA basic academy classes as well as hosting community based law enforcement trainings in Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Ottumwa, Grinnell, West Liberty, Nevada, Cedar Rapids, Missouri Valley, Fort Dodge, Calhoun County, Storm Lake, and Nashua.

If you would like to secure training for your local law enforcement officers, contact Steffani at steffani.simbric@iowa.gov.

Progress Report from Chains Interrupted based in Cedar Rapids

Chains Interrupted is a 501(c)3 nonprofit providing human trafficking services. Founder Teresa Davidson, ARNP, MSN, MA recently submitted this 2019 progress report to share with the Network’s blog subscribers.

New Executive Director Hired
Chains Interrupted recently hired Shana Kargbo as its new Executive Director. Shana started on May 6th and has been a huge blessing! You can contact her at shana@chainsinterrupted.com. They have also hired a Survivor Advocate. Chains Interrupted is now working toward opening a Transition Housing Facility this fall. This will be for adult women who have graduated from a restoration program for human trafficking survivors.

Educational Services
Due to the loss of the statewide Teens Against Human Trafficking VOCA grant, Chains Interrupted will continue to serve the counties of Linn, Johnson, Iowa, and Cedar, and will begin to provide training in schools in the counties of Buchanan and Washington.

During the 2018-2019 school year, Chains Interrupted completed the following:

  • 42 presentations
  • 1911 people trained, including 1570 students, 150 school nurses, 58 school counselors, 30 teachers, 25 parents, 29 superintendents/principles, and 49 para-professionals

These numbers do not include the multiple presentations given at Linn County Juvenile Detention Center and Foundation II with group home students and staff trained.

Looking to the 2019-2020 school year, Chains Interrupted has created a new school presentation based on a video testimony from a local survivor. They continue to provide prevention education to the general public as well as specialized education to hotel/motel employees on how to recognize signs of trafficking and where to report suspicious behavior.

Awareness
Chains Interrupted had 120 volunteers help put together bracelets and literature, decorate a float, and walk or ride in three parades so far this summer (Freedom Fest, Heritage Days, Solon Beef Days) to raise awareness about human trafficking and available resources. They have also participated in several booths, raising awareness about human trafficking and resources available. There are so many volunteers for the Freedom Fest parade, you can’t see their float!

chains-interrupted

Cedar Rapids Area Coalition Against Trafficking
The Chains Interrupted Coalition meets quarterly for international networking, education, and local anti-trafficking updates. Lunch is provided at no charge. For meeting dates and locations contact shana@chainsinterrupted.com.

International Work
Chains Interrupted served in Guatemala again this year from June 7-14. A team of 14 provided training on human trafficking, pornography, child sexual abuse, gangs, and internet safety. They also held four conferences and spoke to several private groups. Over 600 people participated in the trainings, and the overwhelming response was very positive. As one attendee told them, “you must take this team on a bus all around Guatemala and tell everyone of these things!”

Last Week’s Human Trafficking Arrest Report from the Twin Cities

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension-led Human Trafficking Invesigators Task Force conducted a two-day undercover operation last week in the Twin Cities targeting those looking to buy or sell people for sex. Three people were arrested for sex trafficking, promotion, or prositution. Eight people were arrested for solicitation of a minor or solicitation of prostitution under 16 years of age. 18 trafficking victims were recovered and offered victim services.

Progress Report from Braking Traffik based in the Quad Cities

This report was submitted by Alyse Hardin, Survivor Services Supervisor for Braking Traffik. Alyse is also a member of the Iowa NAHT Board of Directors.

In the first six months of 2019, Braking Traffik served 85 survivors of human trafficking (68 sex trafficking, 17 labor trafficking). The breakdown of age groups is as follows: 5 survivors 0-12 years old, 21 survivors 13-17 years old, 15 survivors 18-24 years old, 42 survivors 25-59 years old, and 2 survivors 60 years or older. Below is one of several Quad City billboards.

Human Trafficking Happens in Iowa

In the first six months of 2019, Braking Traffik reached 18,172 individuals through presentations and trainings. They also put up billboards in the five counties they serve (Scott, Muscatine, Louisa, Clinton, Jackson). Below are links to two impact graphics you can download that show the statistics:

In FY2019, Braking Traffik served 131 survivors. This is a huge increase from 2016 when the organization first merged with Family Resources, allowing them to provide direct service to survivors of human trafficking. Here are their service numbers from the last few fiscal years:
FY2016 33 survivors served (32 Sex, 1 Labor)
FY2018 76 survivors served (65 Sex, 8 Labor)
FY2019 131 survivors served (105 Sex, 17 Labor, 9 Child Pornography)

Siouxland Coalition Against Human Trafficking Celebrates Fifth Anniversary

July 23, 2019 marked the fifth anniversary of the Siouxland Coalition Against Human Trafficking. The Siouxland Coalition is a high functioning 501(c)3 nonprofit all volunteer group that has accomplished a great deal over the past five years. They greatly increased public awareness of the problem of human trafficking in the Siouxland community and beyond with their many outeaches and contacts in neighboring counties. They have billboards, PSAs, exhibits, displays, and radio and television interviews.

Coalition members have given hundreds of presentations to businesses, faith, social, educational groups, parents, and students, hoping to enlist all of them in the fight against trafficking. The Siouxland Coalition has also provided trainings to medical, mental health, law enforcement, and emergency personnel. They also work with a good number of direct service agencies to learn together what trafficking looks like in the Siouxland area, to see what services are available, what gaps in the service there are, and what they can do to help fill those gaps. The Siouxland Coalition is also providing a Hotel/Motel Employee Training Project and distributing rescue stickers. Bernadette Rixner represents the Siouxland Coalition against Human Trafficking as an Iowa NAHT Board Member. The NAHT congratulates her and the Siouxland Coalition on their fifth birthday and for all they have done to fight trafficking in western Iowa. To volunteer to help the coalition, go to scahtinc@gmail.com.