Victims of human trafficking in the Coastal Bend will soon be getting some more support. It’s thanks to a recent $450,000 federal grant awarded to a local anti-human trafficking task force and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
Nearly 79,000 children in Texas are victims of sex trafficking. So the grant will go toward services and mentoring programs for child and youth victims.
“The grant provides a basis for us to reach out to the community, to make sure we have the foundation so we can carry this out long term,” said Brad Scott, an assistant special agent in charge with the Homeland Security Investigations Corpus Christi office.
Scott and Texas A&M University’s Dr. Cathy Miller co-chair the Texas Coastal Bend Border Region Human Trafficking Task Force.
The task force was created four years ago. Their goal, with the help of the grant, is to provide even more support and resources for victims.
“We’re trying to get out there to make sure they know we’re here,” said Scott.
The task force works closely with local organizations and law enforcement agencies. But the grant will also go toward more training and education to healthcare providers and the community.
There’s a big need for these kinds of resources in the Coastal Bend because Texas reports the second-highest number of phone calls in the nation to the national human trafficking hotline.
“We have some very unique vulnerabilities in the Coastal Bend,” said Miller. “That includes the poverty rate, the homeless rate, children that are in child protective services and in foster care.”
But now, about 40 people across the Coastal Bend are part of the task force, doing their part to combat the issue.
“This grant would definitely help fulfill that,” said Miller. “And not only the immediate needs, but long-term needs.”
Only three of these grants were awarded in the nation.
Those interested in becoming a mentor for the task force must be able to pass an FBI fingerprint background check and have no criminal record.
For more information on how you can become involved, email Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org