(May 21, 2013 – Minneapolis) — In the final hours before the mandated deadline last night, the Minnesota Legislature passed its budget, which included $2.8 million to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Youth legislation. The original funding request to the Legislature was $13.5 million.
Despite the lesser funding, Minnesota still leads the nation in building and funding a comprehensive response to address child sex trafficking — a significant first step for every child victim.
Of the $2.8 million approved for Safe Harbor:
- $2 million will be dedicated to housing and shelter for sex-trafficked youth.
- $800,000 will create a Safe Harbor Training Fund to ensure that law enforcement and other front-line personnel, statewide, have the training they need to identify child sex trafficking victims and to aggressively investigate and prosecute traffickers.
“We achieved what I’m calling an ‘underfunded and incomplete victory.’ We came out with a total of $2.8 million of the $13.5 million — a good start, but not nearly the amount needed to to provide housing and trauma treatment for sex-trafficked children in Minnesota,” said Lee Roper-Batker, president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.
“I thank the people and communities across the state for standing with us and for standing up for every sex-trafficked child still out there. This journey isn’t over — we are determined to ensure that Safe Harbor is fully funded by our state, ultimately.”
The public’s help is needed now to raise the remaining $7.5 million required to provide full safe housing and trauma treatment for child sex trafficking victims.