A Way Out of Trafficking Through The Greater Philadelphia Salvation Army
Every day is a new day to help survivors of human trafficking, according to The Greater Philadelphia Salvation Army.
Since 2010, the local faith-based nonprofit has provided a safe space and a second chance for survivors through its New Day to Stop Trafficking Program. The program served nearly 1,170 individuals in 2021 through a wide range of services that include counseling, case management, rehabilitation and housing.
“Our services have not stopped, even through the pandemic,” said Heather LaRocca, Director of the New Day to Stop Trafficking Program. “Our staff are on the frontlines of this very real issue in Philadelphia, and our goal is to support survivors towards success in this world.”
According to the United Judicial System of Pennsylvania, 784 human trafficking offenses were filed in Pennsylvania over the past five years. Philadelphia County accounts for 11 percent of those filings and is in the top 10 for Pa. counties with the highest number of offenses filed.
The New Day to Stop Trafficking Program meets survivors where they are daily to help them find a way out and embark on a new journey of opportunity. Those being trafficked can come into The Salvation Army’s New Day Drop-In Center in the Kensington area and receive basic necessities such as food, clothing and personal care support. They can receive transitional housing for rehabilitation and safe reintegration into their community.
The program also includes a mobile case management operation that builds strong bonds with clients through in-person and virtual meetings and relationships with key city organizations to better respond to human trafficking cases. A victim advocate, for instance, works with the Working to Restore Adolescent Power (WRAP) juvenile court to provide resources and trauma informed care at hearings.
Staff of The Salvation Army work with The Philadelphia Police Department’s Police-Assisted Diversion (PAD) initiative to bridge those involved in commercial sex to supportive services, rather than criminal justice involvement within the New Day to Stop Trafficking program.
Most recently, New Day added a trauma-informed yoga class, as well as a partnership with healthcare nonprofit Courage Medicine to provide primary care physician appointments at the New Day Drop-In Center. This summer New Day is expanding its transitional housing program from 8-16 beds and is moving into a freshly rehabbed facility.
“We have seen some amazing successes out of the program recently,” said LaRocca. “We have a client at our transitional housing site graduating from high school and going to college, and clients getting into housing and rekindling a relationship with their kids. We have clients getting into treatment and being seen as a victim rather than a perpetrator prosecuted by the criminal justice system.”
"I cannot thank [The Salvation Army] enough for what the organization has done for me,” said a client who asked that she not be identified. “I had a hard time and had given up on myself. It is nice to know they didn't give up on me. They made me want to fight to be a better me. And that's what I'm going to do: fight. I'm going to fight until I accomplish all my goals and make sure I succeed.”
Those who are in need of help can call The Salvation Army’s Human Trafficking Hotline at 267-838-5866.