FAIR Girls is very proud to participate in HOPE Court, an innovative program for youth victims of exploitation under the direction of the D.C. Superior Court. Our participation in HOPE Court is a critical extension of our Case Management Program and is where we work with our very youngest of clients. HOPE Court provides youth — who are victims of or at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation — with the tools they need to lead free and productive lives.
HOPE stands for “Here Opportunities Prepare you for Excellence,” but as one client said upon her graduation, it should stand for “Hang On Pain Ends.” FAIR Girls as a leading anti-trafficking service provider supports the youth in the HOPE Court program by providing a highly skilled and specially trained case manager to work closely with the youth, the juvenile court, and law enforcement to ensure that youth victims are quickly identified and connected to services.
What is HOPE Court?
HOPE Court is a unique multi-disciplinary voluntary program launched in February 2018 under the direction and authority of the D.C. Superior Court. It was born out of the passage of the 2014 Sex Trafficking of Minors Prevention Act, legislation for which FAIR Girls advocated for over three years. The main goal of this legislation was to ensure youth victims of commercial sexual exploitation were protected from arrest for charges related to their exploitation, as well as ensuring at risk children were identified and referred by law enforcement to child protective services.
What makes HOPE Court unique is the participants’ support from an anti-trafficking service provider that brings a trauma-informed and a youth-led approach to the program and the goals set by youth. These anti-trafficking service providers directly support youth in setting goals, achieving their potential, and removing barriers to a safe, free and productive life.
FAIR Girls and HOPE Court
FAIR Girls makes possible the unique trauma-informed and youth-led approach that makes HOPE Court different and more successful than other juvenile diversion programs.
FAIR Girls provides each HOPE Court client with personalized short- and long-term comprehensive mentoring, including case management assistance, court advocacy, crisis counseling, psycho-education, medical and mental health referrals, emotional support, safety planning, and transportation assistance.
FAIR Girls amplifies the voice of the youth in HOPE Court. By providing invaluable insight regarding the youth’s goals, needs, and challenges in stabilizing their lives, we are better able to empower the youth and create positive future outcomes.
A HOPE Court Survivor Story
Isabelle is a 13 year old survivor of child sex trafficking in Washington, D.C. Isabelle suffers cognitive impairments and struggles with making friends and “fitting in.” Isabelle’s vulnerabilities were exploited by a classmate who recruited her into a local MS-13 gang. For a year, Isabelle was repeatedly drugged and trafficked by the gang. When she tried to get out of “the life,” she was punished by being gang-raped and her family threatened. She skipped school to avoid her traffickers and fell further behind. Isabelle was connected to FAIR Girls through the HOPE Court program and it changed everything. Working with her FAIR Girls case manager, she created a safety plan for how to escape her exploitation. By leveraging our community partnerships, FAIR Girls secured for Isabelle safe transportation to and from school and worked with school officials to develop a safety plan. After a month of talking to her FAIR Girls case manager on a daily basis, Isabelle went from being reluctant and insecure to engaged, enthusiastic and hopeful. Isabelle is now doing well in school, reports feeling safe and happy with her life, and realizes that she had to be the change she wanted to see in her life. Isabelle now has the confidence to advocate for herself in court, in school and with her family. After working with FAIR Girls, she is in a safe and stable place where she can start to get back to her favorite activities of reading, playing soccer and drawing.