What does the Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force have in store for 2019?

Feb 8, 2019 | by Shaina Fuller


This year, like every year, our task force started 2019 by reevaluating our goals. Since it was formed in 2010 by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and the STOP-IT program in partnership with the US Attorney's Office of the Northern District of Illinois, the Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force has brought folks from a variety of perspectives to the table to address the issue of human trafficking. Our multidisciplinary task force partners collaborate to pursue justice for survivors, to ensure that the various systems with which survivors regularly engage have the capacity to respond, and to ensure that quality social and legal services are available to them at every juncture.

So what is in store for 2019? Below are the various goals identified by the task force’s Steering Committee and five subcommittees.

As the task force grows and develops, we hope to formalize task force policy, set member agency expectations, and lay out detailed referral information. This year, the task force will codify member agency information, including program information, eligibility criterion, and expectations around agency procedure, protocol, and referrals so that members can more seamlessly collaborate with each other.

Train Teachers, Staff, & Other Professionals Working With School-Aged Youth

We recognize that youth are at particularly high risk of recruitment into sex and labor trafficking situations. We know from research and survivor accounts that individuals can live at home and attend school while being exploited. In a study involving 41 patients identified in the medical setting as survivors of domestic minor sex trafficking, one third of the patients reported receiving passing grades or doing well in school. Individuals in the field of education are well-positioned to identify potential victims and connect them to resources. The task force hopes to train educators in public schools and other professionals who work with students, starting with outreach to organizations like Teach for America, Americorps, and City Year.

Create a Model Curriculum for Training Healthcare Professionals

An in-depth study of the experiences of human trafficking survivors found that 87.8% of the participants (n = 98) had come into contact with a healthcare provider during their trafficking situation. Healthcare providers play a crucial role in identifying, assessing, and treating survivors. Following outreach to local hospitals in 2018, the task force's Healthcare Subcommittee plans to standardize curriculum and draft a model module to streamline training for medical providers.

Increase Training & Awareness in the Transportation Sector

Between January 1, 2011 and March 31, 2017, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received 320 reports of human trafficking cases that were related to buses or bus stations. The task force will focus on training individuals in the transportation industry on human trafficking and ensuring that bus and train stations in Chicago have human trafficking notices posted to increase public awareness.

Develop a Model Protocol for Hotels & Motels

A Polaris survey of 100 survivors revealed that 75% of the respondents came into contact with hotels at some point during their exploitation. In order to increase outreach to survivors and improve identification by hotel staff, the task force will work to draft a model response to human trafficking in the hotel setting and find pathways for survivors to reach out for help.

Form Partnerships with Financial Institutions

After exiting a trafficking situation, survivors often need help re-establishing themselves financially. One survivor in a focus group conducted by Polaris shared about how being able to open a bank account secretly and save money without her trafficker knowing was the key to her eventually leaving. The task force will work with local banks and credit unions to provide access to no-to-low barrier banking programs for survivors.


Goldberg, A., Moore, J., Houck, C., Kaplan, D., and Barron, C. (2017). Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Patients: A Retrospective Analysis of Medical Presentation. J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol, 30, 109-115.

Lederer LJ & Wetzel CA. (2014). The health consequences of sex trafficking and their implications for identifying victims in healthcare facilities. Ann Health Law, 23(1), 61-87.

Macias-Konstantopoulos, Wendy. (2016). Human Trafficking: The Role of Medicine in Interrupting the Cycle of Abuse and Violence. Ann Intern Med, 165 (8), 382-388.

National Human Trafficking Hotline. (2018). Human Trafficking Intersections with Transportation. Retrieved from https://humantraffickinghotline.org/resources/human-trafficking-intersections-transportation

Polaris. (2018). On-Ramps, Intersections, and Exit Routes: A Roadmap for Systems and Industries to Prevent and Disrupt Human Trafficking. Retrieved from https://polarisproject.org/a-roadmap-for-systems-and-industries-to-prevent-and-disrupt-human-trafficking

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