In March, the McCain Institute and the National Network for Youth hosted a first-of-its-kind specialized training for runaway and homeless youth service providers from around the country. The goal of this training was to hear from expert practitioners who work with at-risk youth and trafficked youth to share practical information about the specific challenges they face and for participants to hear from experts on how best to handle complex situations of exploitation with youth.

With capacity expanded to meet extraordinarily strong demand, the inaugural training included 119 attendees representing 67 separate organizations from 29 different states who successfully completed the Certificate on Human Trafficking for Runway Homeless Youth Providers. The participants’ included a wide range of stakeholders serving youth in transition, from social workers, street outreach workers, school-based liaisons, to attorneys.

This includes service providers like Paula, a New York State Office of Children and Family Services Safe Harbour grantee from Westchester County, who said she attended the training to learn more techniques that she can use with the kids that she works with. She also noted that the wide range of participants from other communities in attendance was helpful for learning purposes.

During the daylong training, the attendees participated in six different training modules. The modules cover the definition and scope of human trafficking, both labor and sex,  dispel myths relating to trafficking and addresses societal and participants’ own assumptions or biases on this issue, the impact of trauma on youth, and advise on building supportive and healthy relationships with at risk and exploited youth.

One unique aspect of this specialized training was that after the morning modules, the group of participants split into two between urban and rural providers. With Leslie Briner of Seattle, Wash. leading the urban track and Amy Jacobson of Fargo, N.D. leading the rural track, training participants were able to dive into more specialized topics for their specific regions.

In a post-training review on the rural-specific modules, one participant said, “This was the first training that I’ve been to that I didn’t feel was a repeat of info and where I felt someone finally understood what trafficking in my area looks like.” Another rural track attendee praised the “useful information to take back to our communities that is not readily available in our area.”

Overall, the McCain Institute is overwhelmingly pleased with the progress made during this first-ever training and is looking forward to hosting more in the future, in conjunction with the National Network for Youth.

“The Certificate on Human Trafficking (CHT) that we developed with the McCain Institute will have a significant impact on runaway and homeless youth in America who are at risk of or have experienced trafficking. Youth who run away from home and youth experiencing homelessness are at high risk of being sex and/or labor trafficked. There are hundreds of runaway and homeless youth service providers across the country who are on the front line serving these young people every day. The CHT will increase the capacity of these agencies and their staff in effectively preventing the trafficking of these youth as well as appropriately serve young survivors of human trafficking.” – Darla Bardine, Executive Director, National Network for Youth

The attendance for the national training was at capacity with a demand from RHY providers to offer the training regionally. The McCain Institute and the NN4Y look to host this training regionally. Additionally, participants have asked for additional in-depth training. The partnership looks to develop and offer a 201-level course at the 2020 Summit on Youth Homelessness.

If you are a service provider that is interested in attending the next training, please sign up here.