Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $500,000)
The U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report from 2012 states that “[P]ersons with disabilities remain one of the groups most at risk of being trafficked,” which the limited research on human trafficking of people with disabilities confirms. Victims with disabilities experience both sex and labor trafficking, with many cases including an element that is unique to people with disabilities: traffickers stealing their government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance. Victims with disabilities experience unique risk factors to human trafficking and barriers to accessing safety and justice, including that law enforcement officers lack knowledge on working with victims of trafficking with disabilities, making it more difficult for them to identify human trafficking when perpetrated against people with disabilities, build trust with victims with disabilities, and investigating cases involving victims with disabilities. The Vera Institute of Justice (Vera), in partnership with the International Organization for Adolescents (IOFA),will design a comprehensive, self-paced online training and resources to build law enforcement’s knowledge, skill, and comfort working with human trafficking victims with disabilities. The online training program will include a number of courses and topics to be determined by a curriculum development team. The courses will include a combination of short videos, written content, and interactive exercises, in line with adult learning principles. In addition, Vera and IOFA will invite a select group of law enforcement officers with baseline knowledge about human trafficking to participate in two learning cohorts, whom will receive technical assistance to help the officers apply what they have learned from the courses.