Unbound’s Underground: A Drop-In Center for Youth

A 2012 study* by WestCoast Children’s Clinic showed that 75 percent of trafficked youth were exploited for two or more years before being recovered or identified as a victim. 50 percent of these youth were age 14 or under when the exploitation started. 75 percent do not view themselves as victims.

If we wait for these vulnerable youth to ask for help, they may never receive the services they deserve. We must take action now to intervene earlier in the process, and to prevent this from happening in the first place.

That’s why Unbound is opening the Underground, a drop-in center for trafficked and exploited youth, which will be the first of its kind in Tarrant County, Texas. Housed in One Safe Place, Fort Worth’s family justice center, the drop-in center will provide a place to rest, light meals, shower facilities, safety, and referral services for youth up through age 22. Open 24/7 and with a street reputation such that youth on the street will take a chance on visiting, the drop-in center will provide an open door for a population that has historically been difficult to reach. It will also be available as a much needed short-term resting place for survivors recovered from trafficking.

Assured of their safety, youth can sleep, get a meal, unwind through recreational activity, and have an opportunity to receive services as they plan their next steps, whether that is returning home, rehab, shelter, or another long-term residential option. The projected opening date is October 1, 2020.

This new entry point for services will allow us to identify victims and intervene earlier, sparing these youth years of pain and trauma.

Learn more about Unbound’s Underground and how you can support this resource for trafficked youth.

Learn more about the signs of human trafficking.

Source: WestCoast Children’s Clinic (2012). Research to Action: Sexually Exploited Minors (SEM) Needs and Strengths.


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