In the world of human trafficking, freedom may only be a fantasy. You want to escape, yet a part of you believes what you’ve been told: that nobody else will accept you. That this life is better than what waits on the outside. Relief mixes with uncertainty and fear as you watch the person who trafficked you taken into custody. Now what?
Fortunately, in Central Oregon, an at: project case manager is there. She walks you through creating a safety plan and finds you shelter. She brings you clothes and hygiene necessities, helps you navigate the reporting process, and follows up to connect you with doctors and counselors. And throughout the process offers support and kindness, staying with you well beyond crisis and the legal process.
For more than 50 years, J Bar J Youth Services has responded to the needs of youth at-risk in our community. They saw boys who had made mistakes, ones who really needed a stable home-like environment where they could learn about themselves and restructure their thinking, so they founded the facility J Bar J Boys Ranch.
Seeing that these juvenile offenders consistently lacked positive adult role models as children, J Bar J Youth Services brought Big Brothers Big Sisters to the region. At Cascade Youth and Family Center, they responded to runaway and homeless kids to give them a safe haven, intervention with their families, and a place to call home while finishing school. Over the decades, J Bar J has built or brought in several programs helping kids, who are in or at-risk of crisis, to build their futures.
And now, with human trafficking victims being recovered in Central Oregon, they have again responded to those in jeopardy. Recently launched as a stand-alone program within the J Bar J Youth Services family, at: project helps victims become survivors. At: project provides case management for victims of both sex and labor trafficking, including adults, in Deschutes County.
There are existing nonprofits in Central Oregon fighting human trafficking through training hotel workers, convenience store employees, and other potential points of contact, about the signs of trafficking, and distributing the national hotline number. There was, however, a need for a social services organization to provide direct services to victims as they rebuild their lives.
At: project also coordinates the Deschutes County Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) Response Team. This group, whose members represent local, regional, and federal law enforcement, Deschutes County Deputy District Attorney, Victim’s Assistance, Behavioral Health, DHS- Child Welfare, and Juvenile Department, as well as KIDS Center, and at: project, provides a multi-agency response to reports of trafficking. Working together they are able to coordinate and leverage resources to provide a comprehensive approach to child sex trafficking and services to victims and survivors.
We’ve all heard the stories of girls who are recruited by traffickers skilled at preying on their need for connection, then secreting them away into ‘the life.’ These are kids living on the street who trade sex for shelter and food. They are workers brought in and trapped with little pay or resources to leave when their passports are held by their employer. Modern slavery takes many forms. J Bar J Youth Services’ new at: project takes a multilevel approach to fighting human trafficking in Central Oregon. This program exists to help victims regain independence, safety, and stability, and to rebuild their lives. JBarJ.org
J Bar J Boys Ranch
is a residential treatment program and high school for boys who come through the juvenile justice system. They have made poor choices that caused them to be there, but they are working to change their thinking, succeed academically, and grow in responsibility. J5 offers short-term stabilization, teaching boys on parole or probation intervention and de-escalation skills. Both are served through the J Bar J Learning Center, offering a diploma track and GED preparation and testing.
Academy at Sisters
Academy at Sisters is an academic and therapeutic boarding school for girls. Today’s teens face challenges like anxiety and depression at alarming rates. The school’s tranquil ranch setting provides the perfect environment to escape social media and reconnect with themselves as well as their families. The program integrates equine-assisted psychotherapy with traditional therapies, such as Accountability-Based Cognitive Awareness and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, into individual, group, and family settings, to help girls understand themselves and build healthy relationships.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon (BBBSCO)
J Bar J Youth Services brought the local affiliation of this national program to the region to help kids who could use a positive adult role model in their lives. By providing one, they hope to ignite and defend potential to help kids make good choices that will impact their futures. To do this, BBBSCO matches kids (Littles) with caring adult mentors (Bigs.)
Cascade Youth and Family Center (CYFC)
Kids become homeless for many reasons. Living in a car or on the street, their futures are sacrificed for immediate needs. School becomes impossible when trying to find food and safety. CYFC’s programs build upon each other, helping kids to the next step in self-sufficiency. Outreach, drop-in hours, family mediation, and emergency shelter help kids in crisis. The LOFT shelter helps them finish high school, get a job, and save up for rental deposits.
Grandma’s House offers emergency and longer-term transitional shelter to young pregnant or parenting mothers who may be homeless or abused. They provide 24/7 hope, support, and education to help young parents make good life decisions and become self-sufficient. Beyond their time at the shelter, the Angel’s Wing program creates a community of support while transitioning into living independently, and for many girls and their babies, this bond is for a lifetime.
Kindred Connections rallies mentor volunteers and churches around families in crisis. Many parents lack a safety net, having no family or community to help them when illness hits, a job is lost, or they face homelessness. Kindred Connections comes in at a time when parents are in jeopardy of being separated from their children who would otherwise go to foster care.