We hope that from our Human Trafficking series, you have learned the basics of understanding the signs and types of trafficking individuals face. Human trafficking is at an all-time high, and there are people impacted by it every day; however, there are very limited resources for individuals to get help. Because of that, Hoyleton Youth and Family Services has taken a stand and partnered with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to create our Healing and Loving Oneself (HALO) mentoring program.
This program is designed for youth, ages 12–20 years old, in DCFS care who are survivors of human trafficking or who may be at risk. Our HALO staff meet with clients once a week for one hour and establish recovery plans with the individual as they focus on coping skills, life skills, how to build healthy relationships, and set long and short term goals. One of the first concepts we teach our clients is how to define love. Because of their trauma, they often have a misconception of what love is and how it is shown. We teach them love is not shown through violence or exploitation. Instead, we build them up and allow them to see their greatness and the choices they can make to better themselves and their future.
Another key element we teach is the skill of self-regulating emotions. We help victims identify emotions they feel and how they can regulate those overwhelming feelings to create new healthy outcomes. As we teach each young person the skill of coping with their trauma, our overall larger goal is for them to be able to complete our program and utilize the skills on their own in daily situations. In addition to this, we also take a holistic approach and work with the child’s guardian as they work through the process of parenting a child with trauma and a specific set of needs. Our HALO program partners with our behavioral health team to support the family and provide counseling services to them individually or together as a family. As we work with the youth, it is also important to work with their foster parents so that everyone is on the same page. Then, parents can encourage goals that were set and acknowledge their child’s achievements and what still needs work.
Overall, it is important to keep in mind that every victim of human trafficking has experienced different trauma, which is why we do not have one definite approach we use. As we assess our clients and their needs, we are then able to create a treatment plan that is unique to them and their needs. This is something we take pride in as an organization, seeing that we are one of the only agencies in our district that has a program solely dedicated to human trafficking. We serve six counties: Madison, St. Clair, Bond, Clinton, Randolph, Monroe, and Washington. If you know someone who could benefit from our HALO program and is in DCFS custody, please contact us today: (618)688-4727.