The University of Maryland Support, Advocacy, Freedom and Empowerment (SAFE) Center for Human Trafficking Survivors has received a two-year $382,408 grant from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) Victims of Crime Assistance (VOCA) Program to provide direct legal and social services to human trafficking victims in Maryland.
The Center’s services are particularly targeted to underserved trafficking victims in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. The funds enable the SAFE Center to hire critical staff to help trafficking survivors access legal services, mental health counseling, primary medical care, economic empowerment services, victim advocacy, safety planning, and meet basic emergency needs.
GOCCP’s VOCA Program aims to expand the availability of direct services to victims of crime and their families in order to aid their restoration after a criminal act and support them in the criminal justice process.
The University of Maryland SAFE Center for Human Trafficking Survivors opened in College Park, Maryland, in May 2016. It is a university-based direct services, research, and advocacy center on human trafficking. Its mission is to provide survivor-centered and trauma-informed services that empower human trafficking survivors to heal and reclaim their lives, and to help prevent trafficking and better serve survivors through research and policy advocacy. An initiative of the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) and University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) through its formal collaborative program for innovation, University of Maryland: MPowering the State, the SAFE Center draws on the wide range of disciplines of both campuses to address human trafficking. Through in-house services and collaborative partnerships, the SAFE Center provides comprehensive direct services to U.S. and foreign-born adult and child survivors of sex and labor trafficking.
Since its opening, demand for the SAFE Center’s services has confirmed the need in the targeted counties. “We are gratified by this grant as it enables us to hire staff critical to meeting the needs of trafficking survivors in Prince George's and Montgomery counties and assisting them on their path to healing,” said Susan Esserman, SAFE Center founder and director.
The University of Maryland is home to the Graduate School and schools of dentistry, law, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and social work and it is the founding campus of the University System of Maryland.