UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Center receives $1-million grant to evaluate and expand housing and support for youth at risk of sexual exploitation

July 10, 2019

As part of a $9.3-million grant from the California Department of Social Services, the Health and Human Rights Program at UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Centerhas won a $1-million grant to develop and evaluate a home-based foster care pilot for youth who are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation. San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced the grant at a press conference in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood today. 

“We know that youth who are at risk have very few safe and supportive housing options, and we hope that the pilot, if effective, can serve as a model to be scaled up throughout California,” said Julie Freccero, director of the Health and Human Rights Program, and the lead researcher for Berkeley’s project. 

The project—in partnership with the City of San Francisco's Department on the Status of Women, Freedom Forward, Family Builders, and other Bay Area-based service providers—will help meet the needs of youth who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking. The pilot also includes 24/7 coordinated response team, short-term residential therapeutic programs, and a new multi-service drop-in center in the Mission District.

A safe and stable home is central to the healing process for survivors, and yet there is extremely limited research and evidence about what kinds of housing and services are most effective in protecting and supporting youth. At-risk youth lack housing options designed to meet their unique needs, including foster families with the resources, skills, and experience to support them. 

The foster care pilot supported by this grant will provide youth with a family home coupled with intensive case management, individual and group therapy, and mentorship. In addition, foster families will receive ongoing training, 24-hour clinical support, family therapy, and access to other resources.

The Human Rights Center will conduct a three-year mixed-method evaluation of the family-based foster care pilot. During that time, the research team will collect longitudinal data from youth, their caregivers, and service providers to assess intervention processes and impact on well-being, emotional and behavioral health, safety, placement stability, education, and justice system involvement.