This study examined the Buffalo City Human Trafficking Intervention Hub Court (BCC HTIC) and its network of partners to describe the model as it currently functions and the evaluability of this approach for improving outcomes for survivors of human trafficking through improved coordination of social services.
The BCC HTIC has two main goals: 1) connect human trafficking survivors and those at high risk of trafficking with critical recovery services such as trauma/mental health counseling and case management, health care, housing, and substance use treatment, and 2) help clients avoid criminal convictions by dismissing or reducing charges. Individuals referred to the HTIC are fully informed about the program and given the choice to participate or not (those who do not want to participate in the program are sentenced per usual processes). All clients are required to engage in some type of services (whether just meeting with an advocate to develop a plan or taking further steps), determined by their own comfort level. Only certain types of cases require court mandates (for client safety reasons, e.g., high risk of overdose). The purpose of this study was to determine whether an outcome evaluation of the network of partners – inclusive of the BCC HITC, other CJ entities, and social service providers – is feasible. The results of this evaluability assessment indicate that such an outcome evaluation would be challenging at the current time for the BCC HTIC, primarily because of turnover in the HTIC judge position, a current gap in the Resource Coordinator role. and unclear commitment from the BCC overall for creating the trauma informed conditions supportive of client safety and progress; however, we would highlight the key point requiring attention to launch a successful impact evaluation at any given HTIC. The evaluation procedure is described.