An Important Funding UpdatePublish Date: January 29, 2024
The turn of a new calendar year brings with it hope of new beginnings. Typically, I bring you hopeful messages as Pathfinders honors National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Messages filled with strength and empowerment. However, this year is different as I have unfortunate news to share.
Later this year, Pathfinders, and organizations like us serving those experiencing sexual and domestic violence, will receive a 70% federal funding cut (totaling about $600,000 annually) that will adversely affect available anti-sexual violence resources.
Young people who’ve experienced homelessness, housing instability and sexual violence, especially youth of color and those who identify as LGBTQ+, are more vulnerable and have a higher risk of being sexually exploited.
These youth and young adults are the focus of our work. When we began our anti-sexual violence programming seven years ago, the majority of our referrals came from 17-22-year-olds. Over the last six months, we’ve seen a significant and alarming increase in referrals for 12-13-year-olds. This is concerning on many levels especially as we’re coming up on this significant funding loss.
Here’s just a snapshot at some of the critical resources youth access at Pathfinders, resources that are at risk due to funding cuts:
- Pathfinders’ Youth Advisory Board members bring youth survivor voice to our work and to our collaborative community partners. They advise us on language and needed resources, and they help train professionals in law enforcement, healthcare and government.
- Our street outreach team identifies and screens exploited youth on the street and offers them basic needs services, ongoing therapy and resources.
- Our anti-sexual violence team offers advocacy and support services including safety planning, crisis intervention, legal advocacy during court proceedings and medical advocacy in health care systems after a violent event.
- Mental health therapists help survivors sort through their feelings and develop coping skills.
- Our Supported Housing team provides safe, stable housing and case management to young adults who’ve experienced sexual exploitation and trafficking.
Young people from every corner of our organization – our behavioral reassignment middle school, Supported Housing, Shelter for those under 18, Drop-In Center members and those needing mental well-being and substance abuse resources – engage with and benefit from our anti-sexual violence work.
We are grateful to have the trust of so many partners and donors that allow us to address the needs of Milwaukee’s most vulnerable young people. Thanks to your support, Pathfinders remains in a strong financial position to be able to manage through this significant funding decrease with as little impact to our services as possible.
My leaders and I are making changes to prepare for this loss in the fall. We are looking for new funding sources to fill in as many gaps as possible and we will keep you informed of any need to make major alterations to the sexual abuse, exploitation, trafficking and housing services offered at Pathfinders.
In the meantime, we ask for your continued partnership in this important work.
Yours in partnership,
President & CEO
Want to learn more about Pathfinders’ services for youth experiencing sexual exploitation? Contact Pathfinders’ Development Team at Development@PathfindersMKE.org.
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