ST. PAUL (Nov. 17, 2014) — The Minnesota Department of Health has awarded $900,000 to Safe Harbor grantees across the state to help free youths from sexual exploitation and to help them recover from the trauma it causes.
Minnesota’s Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Youth Law went into full effect August 1, 2014. The law decriminalizes prostitution charges for youths under 18, increases the penalties for buyers (Johns), and creates a statewide system for helping sexually exploited youths that includes counseling and housing options. The law was implemented in phases after it was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton in 2011.
“These services are a key component of our Safe Harbor/No Wrong Door approach,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “These organizations will provide these young women and men the counseling and support they need to fulfill their true potential and reclaim their lives.”
A sexually exploited youth is someone under the age of 18 who may be subject to sexual exploitation because he or she engaged in, agreed to engage in, or were forced into sexual conduct in return for a fee, food, clothing or a place to stay. A youth also can be sexually exploited if he or she has engaged in exotic dancing, been filmed doing sexual acts, traded sex for drugs, or has been found guilty of engaging in prostitution or prostitution-related crimes.
These organizations receiving grants will make services easily accessible to youths. They will provide them in a variety of ways, depending on the needs of the region and cultural and gender considerations. They will work to move youth toward recovery and address the harm caused by exploitation and trafficking.
Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Program – St. Cloud, MN
Cornerstone – Bloomington, MN
The Family Partnership – Minneapolis, MN
Hmong American Partnership – St. Paul, MN
Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid
Willmar Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota
Midwest Children’s Resource Center – St. Paul, MN
Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center – Minneapolis, MN
North Homes Children and Family Services – Grand Rapids, MN
Olmsted County Victim Services – Rochester, MN
PAVSA – Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault – Duluth, MN
Someplace Safe – Fergus Falls, MN
The Link – Prior Lake, MN
Regional Navigators are the experts who will connect sexually exploited youths to supportive services. They are also central points of contact for communities, health systems, juvenile justice personnel, parents and any concerned Minnesotans seeking information or resources.
Those with questions or concerns are encouraged to reach out to one of the state’s regional navigators. A list is available at Safe Harbor Regional Navigators.
For updates and more information on Safe Harbor implementation, please visit MDH’s Safe Harbor website.