ALLIES-20

The Story of Lighthouse: 40,000 Screenings and Counting

Are we getting any closer to ending human trafficking? 
 
Asking that question set our team on a six-year journey using technology, data, and partnerships to find the answer. And while there remains more to discover, Allies and the anti-trafficking field are making significant strides to evaluate our collective progress.
 
Our learning journey began in 2014 when we partnered with the University of Texas School of Social Work and Bureau of Business Research to produce the first statewide prevalence study of human trafficking. The research estimated that 79,000 minors and youth are victims of sex trafficking. At the same time, another study indicated that up to 88% of trafficking victims say they interacted with a professional who missed the chance to identify and help them.
 
More people than we imagined were being exploited, and fewer than we hoped were being identified and connected to the appropriate care. 
 
It became clear that the first step to freeing people from human trafficking was making victims visible. We set out to build a tool that could help field professionals quickly and easily screen vulnerable populations for sex trafficking. That tool became a powerful software platform called Lighthouse, used today by more than 830 field professionals at 87 sites across Texas to spot victims of exploitation, coordinate quality care, and see trends in human trafficking data.
Text reads: 87 licensed Lighthouse sites in Texas, 833 field professionals using Lighthouse

Lighthouse partners include Child Advocacy Centers, Court Appointed Special Advocate Centers (CASAs), drop-In centers, child sexual exploitation (CSEY) advocate organizations, residential treatment centers, and emergency shelters. Lighthouse partners screen vulnerable populations they serve using the Commercial Sexual Exploitation Identification Tool (CSE-IT), integrated with Lighthouse through a partnership we formed with the WestCoast Children’s Clinic who created the CSE-IT. 

 
Since 2016, Texas child-serving agencies have conducted over 40,000 CSE-IT screenings of youth 10-24 years of age. Based on indicators identified throughout the screening process, youth are scored on a spectrum of risk, from “No Concern” to “Clear Concern”. To date, over 5,000 screenings have been completed for youth who were identified as clear concern for exploitation and sex trafficking. Youth who screen as clear concern are referred to Survivor Care Coordination, a process where multi-disciplinary teams deliver comprehensive, trauma-informed services for identified victims. 
More research is needed to establish relationships between indicators as well as determine which indicators have the largest influence upon the result of a clear concern score for youth. For now, we can report the indicators that show up most frequently on clear concern screenings, including that the youth has a history of being a runaway, involvement in the child welfare system, current or past involvement with law enforcement/juvenile justice, sexual abuse, self-destructive behaviors, inadequate parent/caregiver supervision, and a pattern of irregular school attendance, to name a few. Our goal is to use Lighthouse analytics and research partnerships to continue to explore the relationships between indicators and a clear concern score. Those findings will inform prevention strategies, early intervention solutions, and resource allocation.
 
Six years ago, Texas had no statewide prevalence study, little to no screening for trafficking, few victims identified, an inconsistent mix of services, and almost no data to illuminate the issue. Today – thanks to hundreds of stakeholders across the state and the leadership of the Office of the Texas Governor’s Child Sex Trafficking Team, the movement is making real progress to prevent, identify, and protect victims and survivors. Lighthouse is empowering that work each day, using data from screenings and dozens of other sources to help free people from human trafficking. 
 
If you are a field professional interested in using Lighthouse to identify victims, or you are interested in contributing data to enrich insights in Lighthouse, contact us to learn more. If you are interested in funding innovative solutions like Lighthouse, you can donate through our website or reply to this email to learn more. Together, we can protect freedom and dignity.
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