Fedor Helps Launch New Anti-Human Trafficking Initiative
February 6, 2020
Photo courtesy of the Toledo Blade
State Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) spoke at a press conference Thursday in Lucas County for the launch of a new community-wide anti-human trafficking initiative, the F.O.C.U.S. Runaway Project.
“This plan will allow Lucas county to protect our children from reentering the cycle of runaway behavior and the associated outcomes of drug addiction and sex trafficking,” Fedor said. “I was grateful when Sheriff Tharp and Dr. Williamson contacted me about starting this project.”
The program was created by Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp and Dr. Celia Williamson, a professor at the University of Toledo, who recognized the correlation between homelessness and human trafficking. The University of Toledo Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute reports that runaway and homeless youth are at the greatest risk for being trafficked. Toledo ranks as the city with the greatest number of homeless and runaway youth in Ohio.
“If we can keep our children connected with their families and away from the dangers of the streets, we will be able to better protect those children from becoming victims of human trafficking and drug abuse,” Tharp said.
The F.O.C.U.S. Runaway Project aims to both locate missing youth in Toledo and reconnect them with a Unified Long Term Service Plan—wraparound services like counseling that are designed to support children so they are less likely to run away again. The initiative expands on current current services in Toledo, including the Rescue Mental Health & Addiction Services, as well as leaders in the community, including Toledo Police Chief George Kral and Lucas County Commissioner Tina Wozniak.
“This project shows that we have people right here in Toledo who are taking the time to work together and come up with a real plan to find our most vulnerable youth,” Fedor said. “I am proud of our community for being champions for children.”