Human Trafficking Policy and Research Analyses Project


Project Overview

This project will conduct research to answer questions identified by the Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF’s) Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation and Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP) that will inform the development of anti-trafficking strategies, policies, and programs to prevent and respond to human trafficking.

This project will include a variety of research and evaluation activities such as:

  • Designing and conducting original studies that will inform policy, best practices of programs and strategies to prevent and respond to human trafficking, and the development of new research priorities;
  • Identifying emerging policy and research questions or topics of special interest to ACF that can be addressed through research activities, such as literature reviews; convening and/or reviewing recommendations from various experts, stakeholders, and federal staff and initiating work based on those recommendations; and identifying sources of policy and data and conducting summaries, assessments, or secondary statistical analyses to answer questions of relevance; and
  • Preparation of written products, such as syntheses of research evidence to inform policy and practice; methodological and analytic research documents to advance human trafficking research and evaluation; and, translation of research findings and issues for policymakers and implementers of anti-trafficking programs.

Project Status

Work on the project began in October 2019. Several research topics and evaluation priorities were considered for the project. Three topics have been selected for study: (1) field testing methods for estimating the prevalence of human trafficking in the U.S.; (2) a process evaluation of OTIP’s Human Trafficking Youth Prevention Education (HTYPE) Demonstration Program; and (3) a formative evaluation of OTIP’s Demonstration Grants to Strengthen the Response to Victims of Human Trafficking in Native Communities (VHT-NC) Program. Design of all studies are in progress.

The first study will include a focused prevalence inquiry of human trafficking in the U.S. The overarching goal of the study is to advance knowledge of promising methods for estimating human trafficking prevalence in the U.S. as called for in the President’s Executive Order Visit disclaimer page . Specifically, RTI will field test two estimation methods in one U.S. geographic area in the construction industry. This research will complement, and align with when possible, the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and the University of Georgia’s internationally focused initiative, the Prevalence Reduction Innovation Forum (PRIF).  RTI conducted a comprehensive review of prior prevalence studies, which focused primarily on the sampling and estimation strategies that have been successfully used in prior research. The results of the review informed the selection of the construction industry and decisions regarding estimation methods. Selection of the geographic location for field testing is underway.

The second study will include a process evaluation of the HTYPE Demonstration Program. The goal of the HTYPE Demonstration Program is to fund local educational agencies to develop and implement programs to prevent human trafficking victimization through the provision of skills-based human trafficking training and education for school staff and students as specified in the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2018. The goal of the evaluation is to assess whether the HTYPE demonstration programs are implemented as intended and the extent to which they produce expected outputs.

The third study will include a formative evaluation of the VHT-NC Program. The goal of the VHT-NC Program is to fund projects that will build, expand, and sustain organizational and local capacity to provide direct services, assistance, and referrals to Native American (i.e., American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and/or Pacific Islanders) victims of severe forms of human trafficking as defined by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. The overarching goals of the evaluation are to understand the context in which the VHT-NC projects are implemented, the projects’ goals, and the paths they take to achieve their goals. A primary aim is to conduct a participatory and culturally responsive evaluation that is informed by and respects the knowledge, values, and traditions of the communities implementing the VHT-NC projects.

This work is being conducted through a contract to RTI International.

Point(s) of contact: Mary Mueggenborg and Kelly Jedd McKenzie.

Related Resources

This report summarizes the methods used in prior human trafficking prevalence estimation studies. This includes a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of each method in general and as applied to specific industries. This report concludes with a recommendation for field testing two prevalence estimation studies within one industry and one geographic location in the United States.