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Post-Disaster Worker Empowerment Journal Assessment

NCJ Number
Melissa I.M. Torres; Marianela A. Arreaza
Date Published
November 2018
8 pages
This report reviews the background goals and features of a researcher-practitioner partnership to evaluate a journaling program as part of the Fe y Justicia Worker Center (FJWC), Houston's (Texas) only organization dedicated to immigrant and low-wage worker rights.
Following record-setting Hurricane Harvey, immigrant workers in Houston became the cleanup and rebuilding labor force to address the city's devastation. Already a population that was at-risk of labor exploitation and trafficking, as well as oppressive and discriminatory practices, immigrant Hispanic workers were in need of preventive education and intervention services during these recovery efforts. The Post-Disaster Worker Empowerment Journal Assessment of the FJWC served as a pilot for broader research on the risks workers are facing post-disaster, as well as an assessment of preventive goals through the use of the Worker Empowerment Journals, which complement the ongoing development of the Worker Empowerment Clinic. The FJWC partnered with volunteer and human trafficking researcher Dr. Melissa Torres to evaluate the journaling program as part of the organization's post-disaster worker safety response. Assessment of the journals through focus groups have assisted in guiding the development of the meetings, training, outreach, and leadership for the FJWC Worker Empowerment Clinic. Dr. Torres led focus groups with interested attendees, who were recruited at quarterly worker meetings. Focus group participants who were in more stable work settings had more time to review the journals and document their work experience. They shared helpful feedback on how to better promote the need to document work experiences and record such experience for their mental health and empowerment effects. Implications of the project for policy and practice are discussed, along with means of sustaining the researcher-practitioner partnership.