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Specialized model of care for youth victims of sex trafficking in the child welfare system

What’s this project about?

The study aims to build a specialized model of care for youth survivors of human trafficking in the child welfare system using a participatory action framework. Based on evidence gathered through interviews with experts in the field and a literature review, recommendations will be provided to collaborating agencies: York Region Children’s Aid Society, York Regional Police, and Simcoe Muskoka Family Connexions. The final stage of the pilot project is an implementation and evaluation of the model of care through agency-university collaboration.

How will we go about doing this project?

The project first involves a systematic literature review, as well as drawing on multiple forms of evidence to identify best practice models of care, such as through interviews with experts by experience (i.e., survivors and child welfare personnel). All findings are reviewed and discussed with the agencies for applicability in their context. The next step involves implementing and evaluating the model of care in four pilot homes through agency-university collaboration. Outcomes include: 1) foster parent recruitment, 2) youth selection, 3) foster parent outcomes (monitoring logs, interviews, questionnaires), 4) youth outcomes (assessment, monitoring check ins, interviews, questionnaires), and 5) an examination of program acceptability/feedback on model of care and outcome.

Who can be involved?

At this time, participants include 1) foster parents at York Region CAS or Simcoe Muskoka Family Connexions. Participants also include 2) youth who have been chosen by CAS agencies to meet their internal relevant criteria.

What will we do with our research findings?

The research has direct policy implications in Canada, as the goal is to create a model of care to assist our community partners and key stakeholders. This model has the potential to be used broadly across multiple regions and jurisdictions in Ontario and beyond, as a first step to caring for youth victims of sex trafficking in the child welfare system. Our evaluation will allow us to improve program effectiveness in practice and prepare key stakeholders for the realities of survivor care and support.

What is the next step?

Our project started in September 2019 and we are continuing to evaluate the specialized model of care outcomes into October 2021.

Want to know more about this project?

For more information, please feel free to contact Dr. Jennifer Connolly (, Principal Investigator on the study, or Kyla McDonald (, senior graduate student on the study.