Jewish Child Care Association of New York, New York, NY

Combating Sexual Exploitation

Abstract: Sexual exploitation and commercial trafficking of children has been a longstanding problem in the United States, with victims as young as ten.  After nearly a decade of advocacy to address this severely unmet need, JCCA was finally funded to open Gateways, an innovative residential treatment program for girls (ages 12-16) who have been sexually exploited and commercially trafficked.  JCCA is one of the oldest and largest agencies providing services to children and families in the nation, delivering non-sectarian, quality services to over 16,000 children and family members each year throughout the greater New York City region.

The Gateways program, which accounts for 13 of only a handful of nation-wide residential beds for commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC), engages CSEC victims, who typically are very resistant to services, and immerses them in supportive ego-strengthening activities.  Over the little more than two years since its inception, Gateways has evolved an unique, replicable model that builds on strengths and successfully inspires girls to permanently leave “the life” and achieve healthy, productive futures, supported by family and other positive peer and adult influences.  Gateways is the only residential treatment center for sexually exploited adolescents in the New York State.

JCCA’s program has been extremely successful.  Starting with the second year and new model development, 27 girls have been discharged, with nearly 70% (18) of those permanently leaving CSEC activities and all but one of the 18 reunifying with her family; all 18 girls are actively involved in high school or college.

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