SAFE struggling to find foster homes for sex-trafficking victims

SAFE Alliance pro bono legal grant

A recent University of Texas study estimates that there are 79,000 minors and youth victims of sex trafficking in Texas. The SAFE Alliance created SAFE CARES (Collaboration, Advocacy, Response, and Engagement for Survivors) to provide a comprehensive response for survivors of exploitation by creating opportunities to be, and feel, safe and connected.

One key component of this program is Specialized Foster, which provides training, selection assistance, and support for families to foster survivors of exploitation. Specialized Foster works to provide youth with a safe and connective home environment that gives them the opportunity to begin the journey toward healing.

But SAFE is struggling to find homes to fill this important gap for this vulnerable population.

For many survivors, seeking support is difficult as a result of lingering trauma. With guidance from the foster parents and case managers, SAFE hopes to reduce those barriers to help survivors become self-sufficient. It takes a special family to care for these brave children, and we need help identifying the extraordinary people who are willing to help these survivors heal.

“Specialized foster care offers the opportunity for trafficked youth to learn healthy relationships with trusted adults in a home environment,” said Melinda Cantu, SAFE’s Vice President of Housing, Healing, and Support Services. “People are all unique, as are all these young people. It is our goal to have a variety of approaches to meet the individualized needs of each child. Right now there is a gap in the area of foster families who are able to serve these specialized youth.”

SAFE CARES, a program of The SAFE Alliance, serves young people, 12 years of age or older, who have been, or are currently, survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, domestic minors of sex trafficking, or survivors of child sex trafficking. We serve these youth by addressing the economic and social costs of trafficking with survivor-centered and preventative solutions.

SAFE is a merger of Austin Children’s Shelter and SafePlace, both long-standing and respected human service agencies in Austin. SAFE serves survivors of sexual assault and exploitation, child abuse, and domestic violence. Our goal is ambitious and simple: stop abuse for everyone. Learn more about our services, programs, and locations at

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