The Hennepin County Board on Tuesday approved a broad-ranging plan to provide more aggressive and efficient help for sexually exploited children.
The move, which will involve social services and law enforcement, is a response to Minnesota’s Safe Harbor legislation, passed in 2011, which said that children involved in prostitution should be treated as victims, not criminals.
The county’s “No Wrong Door” plan represents a year of work by 40 staff members to better coordinate help for exploited kids across county departments. Participants will include workers in public health, hospitals and clinics, children’s mental health, homeless and housing services, child welfare and child protection, law enforcement and juvenile corrections, and prosecution and public defenders’ offices.
The initiative, sparked by former Commissioner Gail Dorfman, will be overseen by Commissioner Jan Callison. The county will coordinate services with the city of Minneapolis and community partners such as The Link, the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center and the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.
In 2008, the FBI’s Crimes Against Children Unit highlighted Minneapolis as second among the nation’s top 13 high-intensity child prostitution areas.