Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery, where people are sold as property. After drug trafficking, it is San Diego’s largest underground economy at $810 million annually. The average age of entry into commercial sexual exploitation is 16 years old with virtually every community impacted.
At San Diego Youth Services we have helped thousands of children and young adults who are at risk for trafficking, as well as those who have already been trafficked. Our goal is for the youth we serve to become emotionally and financially self-reliant, so that they are able to overcome the trauma they have experienced, heal and lead productive and healthy lives.
According to the FBI, San Diego is ranked as one of the top 13 worst regions in the United States for human trafficking, with about 3,000 to 8,000 victims trafficked each year.
Our staff members work directly with survivors to get them back on their feet, by providing them with resources, including shelter and food, so that they are able to leave their old lives behind. We provide mental health services, educational support, employment opportunities, as well as support to their families.
I CARE Program
I CARE supports youth, up to age 21, who are at risk for or have experienced sex trafficking or other commercial sexual exploitation. The program provides a mental health clinic and a drop-in center. I CARE provided services to 129 youth and community training to more than 2,160 individuals during the past year. Highlights included training youth, parents, educators and service providers at Grossmont Union High School District, San Diego Unified School District, California State University San Marcos and San Diego State University, as well as organizations such as Jewish Family Service.
Mental Health Services
I CARE's mental health services include individual and family therapy, 24-hour support and medication evaluation, treatment and management. Community training on commercial sexual exploitation is also available.
Provides individual and family therapy for youth, up to the age of 21, who are at risk for or currently involved in commercial sexual exploitation. Our staff members provide home and community-based services.
Ensures our staff members are always available by cell phone to respond to a crisis.
Includes medication evaluation, treatment and management, in conjunction with therapy.
Training is available on commercial sexual exploitation. Training is tailored to the requesting party’s needs.
Drop-in Center Services
I CARE Drop-in Center offers skill development workshops, support groups, leadership opportunities and social activities that support healing. The program offers specialized case management to help youth identify goals and create support around recovery, as well as education, employment and peer support services.
Offers specialized case management services that help youth identify goals and create support around recovery and increasing self-sufficiency.
Provides individual and small group support for youth to obtain educational support through services such as IEPs, academic mentoring and college prep.
Provides individual and small group coaching and support services to help youth identify, obtain and retain opportunities that can help them increase their capacity for economic self-sufficiency and success.
Using lived experience, Youth Support Partners offer a voice, perspective and validation to survivors and help improve social functioning, reduce substance use and improve overall quality of life.
Provides services to caregivers of youth who are at risk or have experienced commercial sexual exploitation. Services include individual support and parenting support groups.
I CARE Contact
A program supporting youth up to age 21 who are at risk for or have experienced sexual exploitation
I Care is held in a
Our STARS (Surviving Together, Achieving and Reaching for Success) program empowers survivors, ages 12-24, to leave sexual exploitation and trafficking by providing emotional support to develop their inner strengths, improve their self-esteem and identify their dreams. We promote healing through relationships and a sense of community through our client-centered, trauma-informed services.
Last year, STARS helped 159 survivors of human trafficking and provided community training throughout San Diego County to youth, parents, educators and service providers in the San Diego Unified School District, San Diego County Office of Education, San Diego District Attorney’s Office and other partner organizations working with youth.
- Services help to identify goals and create support around recovery from trafficking, physical and mental health, independent living skills, and increasing self-sufficiency.
- Support includes detention outreach, court representation and advocacy, health appointments, applying for benefits, housing, obtaining legal documents, enrolling in school, job searching and exercise.
- Referrals and connection to mental health care, school, health, drug and alcohol treatment and housing.
- Individual and family therapy for all minor victims of human trafficking (labor and sex) and adult (18-24) survivors of domestic sex trafficking.
- Referral and connection to mental health care either through STARS or a partner agency.
- Services while the survivor is in custody depending on location, including emotional support, advocacy and establishing goals and a support plan upon release.
- Weekly support group.
- Drop-in structure for young women who need a flexible group structure without an attendance policy.
- Counseling and peer support on topics like relationships and boundary setting, recruitment, vulnerabilities, commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking, safe coping, self-esteem, health, trauma, recovery and goal setting.
- Utilizing lived experience, the Peer Support Partner offer a voice, perspective and validation to survivors and helps improve social functioning, reduce substance use and improve the overall quality of life.
- Training on Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Domestic Sex Trafficking. Training is tailored to the requesting party’s needs.