Twenty years after passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the field of human trafficking (HT) still lacks evidence-based service models to support victims and survivors of HT. There remains a critical need for outcome evaluations that can advance the evidence base guiding policy and practice. RTI International developed the Outcomes for Human Trafficking Survivors (OHTS) instrument in response to the urgent need for outcome evaluations of HT services. The OHTS is the most rigorously developed and tested instrument available to evaluate HT service models.
The California Office of Emergency Service’s Human Trafficking Victim Assistance (HTVA) grant program funds 31 organizations to provide comprehensive services to sex and labor trafficking victims. HTVA grantees are required to collect quarterly client-level process and outcome data using the OHTS instrument.
This proposed study leverages RTI’s previous National Institute of Justice–funded work to conduct a multi-method, multi-site program evaluation of three HT service models (i.e., Comprehensive Service Model, Coordinated Care Service Model, and Housing First Service Model). First, RTI will conduct a process designed to describe HTVA grantee program functioning and capacity; service models; service receipt characteristics, community partnerships, OHTS implementation experiences; trafficking victimization experiences; and demographics. Second, RTI will conduct a rigorous quasi-experimental outcome evaluation designed to test the impact of three service models and service receipt characteristics on OHTS client outcomes; explore longitudinal survivor outcome trajectories; and assess race equity disparities in services and outcomes. Third, RTI will conduct a survivor equity and access study to examine systemic, personal, and logistical barriers to service and referral access and uptake among human trafficking clients and survivors. Finally, RTI will translate research to practice by developing and disseminating user-friendly products, including California state- and site-level reports, and an HT Evaluation Toolkit each designed to support policy, research, and practice.
This study will establish a foundation for evidence-based service models that are urgently needed to address survivors’ needs and support the criminal justice system response to HT. Concurrently, it will produce the largest and most comprehensive assessment to date of survivor outcomes over time, addressing immediate information needs among HT comprehensive service programs. The OHTS will support the rigorous research and evaluation designs needed to identify longitudinal associations between program participation and outcomes. These findings can, in turn, guide program investments and policy development within California, the Office for Victims of Crime, and other public and private entities addressing HT.