Thursday, June 27

8:00AM – 9:00AM

Registration Open 

9:00am – 9:45am

Welcome & Opening Remarks

Ms. Heather Amador, Director of Victim Services Policy and Programs, Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention and Policy
Ms. LaShanta Harris, Assistant US Attorney, Chair, Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force
Ms. Kris Rose, Director, Office for Victims of Crime
Ms. Amelia Rubenstein, MSW, LCSW-C, Director, PARI, University of Maryland Baltimore School of Social Work

9:45am – 10:45am

Keynote Address: 

Melissa Snow, Executive Director, Child Sex Trafficking Programs, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children 

10:45AM – 11:00Am


11:00am – 12:15pm

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Session A

Sex and Labor Trafficking 101

Candace Parrot, Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, Victim Services, Public Awareness Committee

Workshop description coming soon.


Session B

HOPE Court: The District of Columbia’s Response to Sexually Exploited Youth in the Court System

Wemi Peters, Keely Magyar and Dalton Collins, Office of the Attorney General, District of Columbia

HOPE Court is the District of Columbia’s treatment court for youth in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems who are sexually exploited or who are at elevated risk for sexual exploitation.  This workshop will highlight how the entire court team, which includes the presiding judge, the prosecutors, opposing counsel, and service providers, takes a trauma-informed approach to treating the whole child.  Presenters will discuss the challenges of working with youth as they navigate the intensive, holistic treatment program.  The workshop will explore how the team addresses complicating factors related to sex trafficking, such as pregnancy and parenthood, homelessness, substance use, abscondence, and LGBTQIA+ identifying youth.  The presenters will walk through an actual case and demonstrate how the court employs a non-criminal response, even in juvenile justice cases. The workshop will include questions for the audience and audience polls.

Session C

Engaging Community Perspectives in Harm Reduction Program Development: The West Baltimore Community Assessment Report

Ellie Park, MPH, Grants Administrator, UM Capital Region Health Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Center           

People engaged in commercial sex encounter various potential harms at all levels of the social-ecological model that negatively impact their physical, mental, social, and economic wellbeing. In an examination of community-level harms, recent research has identified that negative interactions with community residents and business owners have corresponding effects on the health and safety of people engaged in commercial sex in Baltimore City. Acknowledging these dynamics, the West Baltimore Community Assessment Report sought to formally assess community members’ concerns and suggestions related to commercial sex and harm reduction efforts as a crucial step in community intervention programming. Through a qualitative thematic analysis of community listening sessions hosted in partnership with TurnAround, Inc., this Master of Public Health capstone project identified major themes and subthemes in the community members’ concerns and recommendations regarding commercial sex-related harms. Ultimately, the findings not only indicated strong support from community members for commercial sex harm-reduction and awareness-raising efforts, but the project also offered a broader roadmap for building community trust, engagement, successful public health interventions in Baltimore City neighborhoods. This workshop presentation will outline pivotal background research used to frame this project, methods for conducting a qualitative thematic analysis, results of the West Baltimore Community Assessment Report, and tangible implications for engaging community voices in similar harm-reduction program development plans.

Session D

Survivor-led support: Using Virtual Platforms for Access and Engagement

Liz Kimbel, Restoring Ivy Collective 

This training equips professionals with the skills to establish Peer-Led Support Groups tailored for survivors of trafficking, specifically focusing on leveraging virtual spaces to enhance accessibility. Participants will learn effective strategies for creating a supportive online environment where survivors can connect, share experiences, and foster a sense of community. Attendees will gain practical insights into facilitating meaningful discussions, utilizing virtual tools, and addressing potential challenges unique to online platforms. This training aims to empower facilitators with the tools needed to build a virtual community that enhances support, connectivity, and healing for survivors of trafficking.

12:15PM – 1:30PM


Lunch will be provided. 

1:30PM – 2:45PM

Plenary: Labor Trafficking by Forced Criminality Among Youth Experiencing Homelessness

Kaitlyn Zedalis, Associate Director of Research, Learning, & Advocacy, Covenant House Action & Research Tank (CHART), New Jersey

Labor trafficking by forced criminality (LTFC) is the most common type of labor trafficking among youth experiencing homelessness. LTFC is often under-identified by law enforcement and service providers, and as a result victims often go on to experience criminalization and are not connected to much needed resources. This presentation will review recent research conducted by CHNJ and HEAL Trafficking on LTFC. An overview of LTFC will be provided, as well as an exploration of the role of ideal victim bias in the under-identification of labor trafficking. Practice and policy recommendations based on the research will be reviewed.

2:45PM – 3:00PM


3:00pm – 4:15pm

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Session A

Safe Harbor in Maryland: Protecting Youth Victims of Human Trafficking

Amanda Rodriguez, Executive Director, TurnAround Inc.

This session aims to address how we strengthen and create laws that protect individuals from sexual violence. While seeking to secure resources and support services for survivors of sexual violence, specifically, in this session – human trafficking.

We’ll discuss legislation that ensures survivors have access to comprehensive and survivor-centered services, addressing their physical, emotional, and legal needs; in addition to working toward the development of legislation that is intersectional, recognizing the unique challenges faced by individuals from marginalized communities, and elevate their specific needs.

Spotlighting continuous advocacy that focuses on the reform of policies, reflects emerging issues, and evolve the understanding of sexual violence as a pivotal factor for advancing equity and increases the likelihood of ending sexual violence through the lens of legal and institutional frameworks that govern societal responses to such issues. Aiming to create comprehensive and effective policies that address the root causes, consequences, and prevention of sexual violence and human trafficking.


Session B

HT 101 for Deaf Community Members and Service Providers

Elizabeth Bowman, Ph. D, Restoring Ivy Collective

Sex trafficking, or the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in the case of minors, is defined by the TVPA is any “commercial sex act induced by force, fraud, or coercion in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age” (Federal Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, TVPA, 2000). This training will seek to provide an overview of the topic of CSEC/sex trafficking, identification of victimization, how to engage with youth and adults who may be at risk as well as reducing overall risk. Specific considerations in working with Deaf populations will be addressed including specialized and accessible resources for support. During this training, participants will have the opportunity to identify trafficking warning signs, approaches to intervention with an empowerment framework, and how to get help.

Session C

Understanding Running Behavior and Preventing Revictimization

Brittany Butler, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)           

In 2023, 1 out of 6 missing children reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children who had run away were likely victims of child sex trafficking. Many of these cases involved children missing from the care of child welfare. This presentation will provide a deep dive into the reasons why youth may run away or leave home or a foster care placement, including “push” and “pull” factors, and the increased vulnerability to child sex trafficking that missing youth experience. This session will cover practical lessons learned in developing proactive recovery and response plans focused on increasing rapport, youth engagement, and strategies to understand and reducing running behavior for missing children who are being sex trafficked. These considerations in planning and early engagement can create an environment during recovery that shows survivors that professionals are concerned about their well-being. Attendees will also learn about resources available through the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children that can assist parents, child welfare professionals, and other MDTs members with this effort.


Session D

Vulnerability and Resilience: Understanding Human Trafficking Among LGBTQIA+ Youth

Monte Ephraim, LCSW-C, CCTP, MESE Training and Consulting LLC; and Shawn Elbert, Trainer, MESE Training and Consulting

This workshop looks at and explores the intersecting factors that make LGBTQIA+ teens and young adults particularly vulnerable to human trafficking. Drawing on research and real-life experiences, participants will explore the complex dynamics of abuse, rejection, and systemic challenges that contribute to the heightened risk faced by this community.

Key topics covered include:

  1. Understanding Vulnerability: Participants will examine the impact of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse within LGBTQIA+ households and communities, as well as the profound consequences of family rejection based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  2. Exploring Systemic Challenges: The workshop will look at the structural barriers faced by LGBTQIA+ youth, including homelessness, unstable housing, food insecurity, and disproportionate involvement in the criminal justice and foster care systems.
  3. Recognizing Indicators: Attendees will learn to recognize signs of vulnerability to human trafficking among LGBTQIA+ youth, with a particular focus on those at risk of exploitation in the sex trade.
  4. Building Resilience and Healing Centered Engagement: Through discussion and interactive exercises, participants will explore strategies for supporting LGBTQIA+ youth resilience and empowerment in the face of adversity in healing centered engagement.

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