The Women’s Fund for the Fox Valley Region presented an issues forum on at-risk youth as part of its annual luncheon, featuring Rachel Lloyd, a leader in fighting commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking of girls and co-producer of the ground-breaking Showtime documentary “Very Young Girls.”
The facts regarding this issue in the Fox Valley are disturbing to say the least.
The panel featured:
- Tim Bohrer: runaway program director for the Boys’ and Girls Clubs’ of the Fox Cities.
- Mark Mertens: manager of Youth and Family Services for Outagamie County.
- Maria Turner, executive director of CASA Fox Cities (Court Appointed Special Advocates for children whose families are going through the court system and need protection).
The forum was recorded and is available at www.postcrescent.com/womensfund.
Here are some of the key points they presented:
- In 2013, 3,500 children a month were assessed by Child Protective Services.
- Outagamie County’s 14 caseworkers each Assist 12-14 families at any given time.
- CASA is growing all the time. Last year, 20 advocates were trained. This year, 30 will be trained. Even at this growth it can only serve about 20% of the children and youth in the court system.
- All providers are aware of needing mentors and advocates representing the diversity of the community.
- Children seen by Child Protective Services are significantly more likely to end up in the juvenile justice system. Other critical variables that make children vulnerable to later problems including sex trafficking are: poverty, no stable adult figure, alcohol and drug abuse in the home, mental health problems in the home.
- Wisconsin’s efforts on this issue rank low nationally. An Anne E. Casey Foundation report this month ranked Wisconsin between 45th and 50th on measures (mostly for African American children) such as delayed pregnancy, young adults in school or working, kids with two parents, family education, poverty level – the list goes on and on.
All the more reason to look at early prevention.
The Sexual Assault Crisis Center hosted a GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services) Girls Conference Sept. 22-24 at Fox Valley Technical College as a piggy-back to the Women’s Fund’s event. The conference offers training for about 80 of SACC’s Sexual Assault Response Team partners from Brown, Calumet, Outagamie and Winnebago counties on how to deal with sex trafficking. A $5,000 grant from the Robert Dohr and Lilas Dohr Current Community Needs Fund with the Community Foundation is helping to pay for the conference
VP Community Engagement Marti Hemwall is in charge of grantmaking at the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region.