27 Jan River Oaks Foundation Challenges the Charleston Community to Stop Child Sex Trafficking

CHARLESTON, SC— The Dee Norton Lowcountry Children’s Center (DNLCC) is pleased to announce the receipt of a 5-year challenge grant of $20,000 per year from the River Oaks Foundation to address the issue of the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), which includes child sex trafficking, in our own local community and throughout our state. Funds from the grant will help stop the trafficking of children in the Charleston Lowcountry, and when trafficking does occur, reduce its impact on children. Specifically, grant funds will be utilized to conduct trainings with key child-serving professionals like law enforcement officers and social workers. Through these trainings, participants will learn to better recognize CSEC victims and to utilize the interagency response protocol developed by DNLCC’s CSEC Task Force. In addition, grant funds will support DNLCC’s implementation of this protocol through funding a part-time program coordinator who will conduct trainings, field referrals, and coordinate services for identified victims.

Research shows that children with histories of child maltreatment are at increased risk for child sex trafficking, and our region has a disproportionately high rate of child abuse investigations and child maltreatment cases. As a result, DNLCC serves a larger proportion of children involved in child welfare than other children’s advocacy centers in the state. Therefore, it would be expected that DNLCC would serve a considerable proportion of this high risk group. In order to connect children with appropriate interventions to prevent or address child sex trafficking, our first responders must first be able to identify the risk factors and be aware of the coordinated resources available in our community. This increased awareness will result in an increase of referrals to DNLCC for services, so a CSEC coordinator is needed to manage the many complex needs of affected children. The River Oaks Foundation challenge grant will allow DNLCC to leverage and expand upon its current work to address the needs of CSEC victims. However, in order to achieve this positive impact, matching funds of $20,000 per year are needed for this 5 year project.

“We are thrilled to partner with the River Oaks Foundation on this project. In the past year, we have seen a clear need to hire a coordinator for child victims of sex trafficking and exploitation.” stated DNLCC Executive Director Carole Swiecicki, Ph.D. Dr. Swiecicki continued, “We hope that this challenge grant will quickly spark matching funds to allow us to hire this person and provide the needed training and coordination in Charleston. We are so grateful for this generous support to stop sex trafficking and its effects on Charleston’s children.”

For more information about DNLCC, or to donate or volunteer, call Shanon Stroer at (843) 723-3600, or visit www.dnlcc.org.

DNLCC is a Children’s Advocacy Center that provides assessment, treatment and support services to children and their families when there is a concern of abuse. Our mission is to keep children safe from abuse and trauma, and when either occurs, to work with our community to bring healing to these children and their families. Since opening our doors in 1991, DNLCC has helped over 25,000 child victims.

The River Oaks Foundation was founded in 1986 and awards approximately 20 grants per year primarily to arts, education, and human services.

River Oaks photoPictured L to R:  Beverly Hutchison, Abigail Darlington, Carole Swiecicki, and Rachael Garrett.