I just wanted to thank you for your continued interest and support of Courage Worldwide and our work with victims of sex trafficking. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I wanted to provide some exciting updates at Courage Worldwide and also share with you some challenges we continue to face.
We have operated a home for girls in Tanzania since 2011 and, in the last year, have expanded the number of girls served there from 6 to 11, in addition to two of their children. Thanks to your support, we are planning to expand our residential treatment center/home there from 11 to 40 residents and hope to accomplish that within the next 24 months.
Joel and Stephanie Midthun – long time staff and board members of Courage Worldwide – have made the courageous decision to relocate to Tanzania to oversee and facilitate this expansion and to provide community trainings as well as awareness events within the country with regard to the issue child sex trafficking. Courage Worldwide will be welcoming teams and interns to participate in our work there. Please let us know if you have an interest in being a part of such a team. Karibu sana! (You are very welcome.)
Expanding Services to the Over 18 Population
For many years, we have provided support to many of our girls who once called Courage House home on a relational basis. We are now pleased to announce that those relationships and resources are now a part of our over 18 program and case management.
The journey to healing is a long one for youth victimized as minors. Traffickers pursue them and prey on their vulnerabilities, lack of resources and desire for family/connection. Continuing their education and/or finding a career, while continuing their journey to wholeheartedness, requires people in their life to equip, encourage and empower them in healthy choices, independent living and relationships that build them up not tear them down.
Our immediate focus will be on the more than 40 previous residents who called Courage House home who are now in the community – some with their own children – while expanding services to other over 18 victims in the region/state, as we have funding and capacity. Like our program for minors, we will have 6 available beds and will provide resources on a case-by-case basis in the Sacramento region. Tangible items such as housing, tuition and therapy are at the top of the list of their needs as well as intangibles like parenting classes, application assistance and simple encouragement. These young adults need support and resources to ensure they remain free of traffickers preying upon their still vulnerable lives.
Courage House Northern California
After five years of operating the U.S. home/center 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the Courage Worldwide Board of Directors made the extremely difficult decision in June 2016 to pause operation of the Northern California Courage House due to the following reasons:
- Appeal state regulatory decisions that impact the safety of the residents and staff at Courage House.
- Explore and pursue the new California state license since group homes (our current license) are being phased out by the state of California.
- Recruit, hire and train additional staff.
Negative publicity has left the incorrect impression that the state of California shut us down. That is not true. In fact, we still retain a license to operate a group home facility and are free to re-open as long as we are compliant with all state regulations.
Unfortunately, major changes to the child welfare system took place on January 1, 2017 which dramatically affects our ability to execute our long term program and therapeutically serve minor children who have been sold for sex in the state of California. During the past year, we attended the orientation and subsequent follow up meetings for the new California licensing requirements. We have attempted to take our existing successful long term program and morph it into the new regulations, which are intentionally a short term program.
During this process, we have realized our program will not fit into the new regulatory scheme as the Courage House program requires a minimum of 12 months, with best outcomes being realized in the 18 to 24 month range. There is now no state license available in the state of California for a long term program like ours, specific to this very specialized population; victims of sex trafficking. There are currently no carve outs or specific regulations and/or requirements for these vulnerable victims and their unique needs. The state mandate is to now place highly traumatized children in a short-term treatment facility, then move to a resource family (formerly called a foster family). These families will then be tasked with providing the unique therapeutic services these children require within their family unit.
The state has a goal of providing every foster child a family. We applaud that goal … in theory. However, children who have been sold for sex have unique and elevated needs that don’t mirror a typical foster child’s needs. Without carve outs and special regulations for this population we do not feel we can keep the residents or staff safe at Courage House.
When we opened Courage House Nor Cal in 2011, our intent was to provide a safe home; a place of healing for children who were sold for sex so that we could equip, encourage and empower them to be and do all God created them to. Under the new state regulations, requirements and expectations we are limited on how we can do that as some of these requirements are in conflict with our Christian values/beliefs.
Due to these reasons, we have made the very difficult decision to not pursue the new short term residential treatment program (STRTP) license for minor children in the state of California at this time. We will continue to explore options that would allow us to serve girls who have been victims of sex trafficking and are seeking possible partnerships with other organizations committed to fighting sex trafficking.
The media has also repeatedly questioned our fundraising efforts, implying that we have no other programs under the Courage Worldwide umbrella that require funding. That assertion is also untrue.
In fact, our plate is quite full today. With the expansion in Tanzania, serving the over 18 population in the Sacramento region, pursuing the Courage House prototype for minors in states like Texas and Mississippi, as well as continuing our community education and victim certification programs, the tasks ahead of us are very exciting and yet challenging. Courage Worldwide no longer receives any county, state or federal funding. We are 100% dependent upon donations. To continue to serve those who have been affected by this evil and impacted by the crime of sex trafficking, we need you and your continued support.
Thank you for your prayers and encouragement during this challenging season. We have sought the wise counsel of many, as well as the Lord. Though incredibly difficult, we do believe this is God’s direction for our organization. We covet your continued prayers and support.
Jenny Williamson and the Courage Worldwide Board of Directors.
Interested in Reading More?
You can learn more about this issue from either of the articles below.
The Chronicle of Social Change: “Curbing Congregate Plus Foster Care Shortage Equals Bad Policy”
Youth Today: “Some Youths, Who Are More Troubled, Best Off in Group Homes”