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Evaluation of a Service Provision Program for Victims of Sex Trafficking

Award Information

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2014, $247,093)

The proposed research is an impact and cost effectiveness evaluation of the My Life My Choice (MLMC} program. MLMC provides services to appoximately 40 unique survivors of domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) each year. MLMC also provides 1 0-session Sexual Exploitation Prevention groups to youth at-risk for DMST (-400 youth per year). MLMC clients are 99% female, 80% are youth of color. All youth in this evaluation will be 14-17 years old.
This research is important because DMST is prevalent, consequential and costly, but the U.S. lacks sufficient evidence-based, cost-effective programs to provide DMST prevention and intervention services. We will investigate whether the MLMC program is effective, and if so, what aspects of the program appear to drive the success, and the cost of providing the program per participant. We will also explore whether the program benefits some youth (such as those who are highly engaged with MLMC services) more than for others. The relevance of the proposed research to human trafficking policy, practice and theory is that it will provide new evidence about whether it is possible to prevent at-risk youth from being trafficked domestically within a year of prevention group services, and whether the theoretical basis of MLMC (i.e., resilience theory, mentorship)produces successful results for minors who have been trafficked. The cost-effectiveness data will be particularly useful for determining if it is worthwhile for the U.S. to invest in such programs.
The research design will be quasi-experimental, longitudinal, and mixed methods. We will compare outcomes for those who receive both a "high dose" and a "low dose" of MLMC services. We will also compare outcomes for youth who are in the survivor advocacy services group and for youth who are in the at-risk prevention group. We will follow all youth from baseline to 12 months with a six month interim assessment. We will also interview a randomly selected subset of MLMC participants in order to get qualitative information about DMST experiences and service needs. The proposed impact evaluation and cost-effectiveness study is novel because, to our knowledge, MLMC is the only agency in the U.S. that is currently providing both survivor advocacy and prevention programming for DMST. A cost-effectiveness evaluation of a DMST program has never been carried out previously. The research team is ideally prepared and highly qualified to carry out the proposed project, as they are experts in the conduct of research on highly sensitive topics with youth, in program evaluation, and violence-related program cost effectiveness analyses. In the first year, we will accomplish the following:

(1) IRB approval and privacy certificate approval
(2) Hiring of research assistant; research assistant training
(3) Preliminary preparatory meeting with the New Jersey and Boston sites (to prepare for participant recruitment)
(4) Establish tracking system and database for cost effectiveness analysis
(5) Recruit and collect quantitative data from 180 participants (baseline); this breaks down to 165 from the secondary prevention group, and 15 from the tertiary prevention group
(6) Collect six month follow-up data from an anticipated 120-180 participants
(7) Collect qualitative data from 40 participants
(8) Two Advisory Board meetings

Date Created: September 16, 2014