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Polaris Project, NJ Dept. of Children and Families Named Award Finalists

NEWARK, NJ (December 17, 2013) – The New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) and Polaris Project, a leading organization in the global fight against human trafficking, were named as finalists in the first round of the “Partnership for Freedom,” a competition seeking innovative ideas to better care for survivors of modern slavery in the United States. The Partnership for Freedom’s first challenge, Reimagine: Opportunity, seeks creative, sustainable ways to address three critical issues faced by human trafficking survivors: sustainable housing, economic empowerment, and social services.

Polaris Project and DCF joined together on a proposal to increase the availability and quality of housing in New Jersey for human trafficking survivors. By developing a user-friendly and innovative tool to locate and secure housing for survivors, the collaboration leverages existing resources throughout the state, builds new partnerships in related fields to fill gaps in service, and delivers tailored training on how to provide housing services for survivors of human trafficking. The entry was selected from more than 160 submissions representing 260 applying organizations.

“Polaris Project is thrilled to be named as a ‘Partnership for Freedom’ finalist with the Department of Children and Families. If selected for this award, our collaboration will significantly increase and improve housing services for survivors of human trafficking,” said Kaitlyn Keisel, Director of Polaris Project New Jersey. “This unique partnership between Polaris and DCF builds upon the incredible work underway through the New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women and will fill large gaps that currently exist. Once human trafficking victims are removed from their situations, it’s imperative that they have the housing services they need to stay safe and begin to rebuild their lives.”

Human trafficking is a thriving criminal industry, with traffickers making billions in profits by using force, fraud, or coercion to rob victims of their freedom. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, with hundreds of thousands of victims forced to provide commercial sex, labor, or services against their will here in the United States.

Polaris Project and DCF, along with eleven other finalists, will participate in an Innovation Workshop in Washington, D.C. in January as part of this competition. The final winners will be announced in Spring 2014 and will receive funding to begin piloting the solutions.  Learn more at www.partnershipforfreedom.org.

About Polaris Project
Polaris Project is a leading organization in the global fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery.  Named after the North Star “Polaris” that guided people escaping slavery along the Underground Railroad, Polaris Project is transforming the way that individuals and communities respond to human trafficking, in the U.S. and globally. By successfully pushing for stronger federal and state laws, operating the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline (1-888-373-7888), conducting trainings, and providing vital services to victims of trafficking, Polaris Project creates long-term solutions that move our society closer to a world without slavery.  Learn more at www.polarisproject.org.

About the NJ Department of Children and Families
The New Jersey Department of Children and Families is the state’s first comprehensive agency dedicated to ensuring the safety, well-being and success of children, youth, families and communities. Our vision is to ensure a better today and even a greater tomorrow for every individual we serve. Created in July 2006, we are the first Cabinet-level department devoted exclusively to serving and safeguarding the most vulnerable children and families of our state. Since that time, the agency has evolved to bemore inclusive of the voice of the individuals it was established to serve.

About Partnership for Freedom
The Partnership for Freedom is a public-private partnership that was first announced by President Obama during his landmark speech on human trafficking in September 2012. It is led by Humanity United, a foundation dedicated to building peace and advancing human freedom, and the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative and Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation.

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