Our client intake process is a 4-step sequence that involves identifying trafficked individuals, assessing legal needs, initiating referrals, and empowering survivors. Eligibility for service is based on established criteria.
“Everyone has the potential to discover a human trafficking situation. While the victims may sometimes be kept behind locked doors, they are often hidden right in front of us… Knowing [the] indicators of human trafficking and some follow up questions will help you act on your gut feeling that something is wrong and report it.” U.S. Department of State
The 1st step of the intake process is the identification of a trafficked individual. Assessment eligibility is based on the following criteria:
Human trafficking is defined as the commercial exploitation of another person for sex or labor services through force, fraud, or coercion. This statutorily-derived definition informs our referral decisions. Circumstances that do not invoke the form of exploitation it describes fall outside the scope of our mission.
If a trafficked individual is identified, we stand available to assess how to appropriately address her/his legal needs. A survivor may contact us directly or be referred by a third party. Please note that legal issues often present complicated factual scenarios that require significant research and preparation time to address. Thus, the more advance notice we are given concerning a potential legal need, the better positioned we will be to conduct a timely assessment.
“Human trafficking cases are often complex and multi-dimensional… [Trafficking survivors constitute] a very vulnerable population in desperate need of high-quality legal assistance.” American Bar Association
The 2nd step of the intake process is the assessment of legal needs. If assessment eligibility is established, a Legal Coordinator conducts a comprehensive interview to assess the precise nature of the survivor’s legal needs. Interview findings are documented, contact information is maintained, and appropriate follow up is encouraged. Referral eligibility is based on the following criteria:
Trafficking-Related Legal Need
In order to qualify for referral, the assessment must yield information demonstrating the existence of a legal need that arises from the circumstances of the survivor’s exploitation. If the legal need at issue does not directly relate to the survivor’s trafficking experience, the circumstances fall outside the scope of our mission.
Stable, Sober, Communicative
Due to the inherently interactive nature of attorney-client relationships, survivors are best positioned to benefit from legal counsel when they are stable, sober, and communicative. Referrals can only be made when survivors maintain a consistent presence within a stable residence, demonstrate a sustained commitment to drug avoidance, and possess reliable means of communication.
“Trafficking victims have a wide range of civil legal needs, depending on their personal circumstances and the trafficking situation they have endured. Some will need only limited legal services for a short period of time, while others will have multiple legal issues that may last for many years.” U.S. Department of Justice
The 3rd step of the intake process is the initiation of referrals. If referral eligibility is established based on assessment findings, we initiate a referral process designed to connect the survivor with the most appropriate form of assistance.
Legal First Responders Network
Survivors are first referred to our Legal First Responders (LFR) network. These skilled pro bono attorneys are licensed, active, and in good standing with their State Bar, allowing them to respond promptly when a referral is made. Additionally, we make every effort to match survivors with attorneys who are specialized in their specific area(s) of need. Once the connection between survivor and LFR is made, we strive to maintain contact with all relevant parties, facilitating communication, providing status updates, and ensuring that matters are advancing in a timely fashion.
When a survivor is referred to a LFR, they are also given the option of connecting with our Alongsiders network. Participation is highly encouraged. The assessment interview often reveals significant areas of additional need that do not relate directly to an outstanding legal issue. Alongsiders are trained to offer faith-based, trauma-informed support to survivors as they seek to resolve these non-legal issues.
“The U.S. legal system is highly complex and fractured… It is important to keep the victim informed of the status of any and all legal proceedings, and equally important for other providers working with the victim to understand the complexities of the legal process.” U.S. Department of Justice
The 4th step of the intake process is the empowerment of survivors. Survivors are empowered by the LFRs and Alongisders to whom they are referred.
Survivors greatly benefit from the legal advocacy LFRs provide. LFRs help survivors navigate complex court systems, legal procedures, and professional protocols that are often confusing to those who lack formal training. While a desired result is never guaranteed, achieving a positive outcome is far more likely with attorney support. Professional legal representation is often the difference between overcoming a legal obstacle and remaining impeded by it.
Spiritual and Social Support
Survivors also benefit from the spiritual and social support Alongsiders offer. Alongsiders support survivors by making modest meal, clothing, and transportation purchases; connecting them with medical and cosmetic professionals to address necessary health-and-wellness issues; and facilitating opportunities for educational and occupational advancement when appropriate. Survivors who engage with Alongsiders also increase their prospects for legal success. Alongsiders commonly accompany survivors to legal proceedings, and courts sometimes seek their input when considering an appropriate ruling. The additional layer of advocacy Alongsiders offer frequently enhances the likelihood of a favorable outcome.