In Minnesota, a Safe Harbor law was passed in 2011 that provided a legislative framework for legal protections and state services for sexually exploited children and youth. This legislation shifted legal definitions of “sexually exploited youth” and “delinquent child” to acknowledge that exploited minors are not delinquent, but are victims. An expansion of the law in 2013 and 2014 included implementing No Wrong Door, a statewide, victim-centered response for serving exploited children and youth.
With the support of the Women's Foundation of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Health, Wilder Research evaluated the implementation of the Safe Harbor Law and No Wrong Door model, which address how children who are exploited for commercial sex are treated.
Safe Harbor goals year one
Safe Harbor Regional Navigators began their work in 2014 (some in April and some in July) and had four main goals
- Improve community capacity to identify commercial sexually exploited youth in Minnesota
- Provide regional expertise throughout the state, serving as resources for communities on youth services and sexual exploitation
- Increase services available and improve effectiveness of those services to sexually exploited youth to enhance positive outcomes for youth
- Enhance coordination and collaboration between systems (criminal justice, health care, child protection and welfare, etc.) and professionals serving, interacting, and engaging youth.
Wilder Research recommendations
- The state should seek options for full funding
- Expand age limit of Safe Harbor law
- Develop more services
- Create more housing
- Improve collaboration across sectors
- Focus on prevention
- Provide more grantee training upfront and expand non-grantee training opportunities to others
- Make the model more responsive to schools and to other cultural groups, including tribal communities
- Increase public awareness and understanding of commercial sexual exploitation
- Expand the evaluation to encompass the work of all grantees and a longitudinal study of impacts and challenges
- Clarify the roles of grantees, other stakeholders, and committees
Read the complete Safe Harbor First Year Evaluation 2015 online at the Wilder Foundation.
Safe Harbor continues to gain ground in reaching Minnesota’s sexually exploited youth. In the last year and a half, MDH and our partners have created a statewide service infrastructure including 22 organizations, served nearly a thousand youth, and trained tens of thousands of adults and youth on Safe Harbor and sexual exploitation.
In 2016, with the MDH Safe Harbor Training Coordinator on board, the Safe Harbor program has begun building capacity to train even more professionals who interact with youth including child protection, social workers, medical/health care professionals, schools and criminal justice professionals. We are also in the process of evaluating Safe Harbor’s past, present and future by engaging in a strategic planning process involving various statewide stakeholders.
In 2017, Safe Harbor aims to expand outreach efforts directly to youth by developing a website by youth for youth that will provide education on sexual exploitation and where to seek help.
In the Spring of 2017, MDH will release a Request for Proposal seeking applications for Safe Harbor Regional Navigators and Supportive Services.
For more information
Learn more about Safe Harbor Minnesota.
If you have questions about Safe Harbor, contact Lauren Ryan Safe Harbor/No Wrong Door Director 651-201-5412.