Julie Neubauer: So as part of our larger strategy towards addressing sex trafficking we examined the need for crisis beds. And as we were examining it we were approached by one of our community partners. They turned to us and said we need your support, we need a place to place these young ladies once they begin to reach out for support. We recognized that there were a lot of challenges in having crisis beds within a shelter population. But we decided that the need was so strong that we had to do something immediately. Through the work that we've done we arrived at a number of different recommendations. They begin with the idea that you need to be trauma-informed, not lip service trauma-informed, but really understand what that means when you have a young person in front of you and they're behaving in a certain way.
Claudia Bernardino: Especially for young ladies who are coming in and they just left, you know they just fled from their trafficker, they need that one on one support
Julie Neubauer: …to be able to have staff who are available 24-7 to be able to respond to the needs when they arise, that this population isn't a prescribed response. Normal circumstances quickly turn into crisis and so you need to be prepared for that possibility.
Michelle Anderson: It is about that relationship, and if that relationship does not get established then it's very difficult to help them and guide them out of being exploited.
Claudia Bernardino: While we have our advocates, the shelter staff are the ones who are constantly working with them, so what ends up happening is that, if a staff has taken their full day to really support this young lady, they're not able to reach out to the 10 other youth that they are working with. So the demand is definitely high and the need is high.
Julie Neubauer: so we created a separate space. So on the girls' floor we were able to create a separate bedroom that was kind of off the beaten path. We recognized that there would be the need for some flexibilities within this population to allow them to be able to land softly. To be able to have a one on one worker who was dedicated and understood what their needs were specific to the sex trafficking experience that they'd had. In all of this you need to have the ability to support your staff, to recognize that this work is really, really hard, and create space for them to be able to acknowledge that difficulty, to have supervision and debriefing available to them.
Michelle Anderson: Self-care is so, so important, because we end up with vicarious trauma. That is a reality if you're going to do this work you will have vicarious trauma.
Julie Neubauer: Even if you find yourself in a situation where you can't create a separate bedroom, where you have to have the bed, the space, within the remainder of your shelter, go ahead and do it. Yea, because my catch phrase, one is better than none, right?