Omaha, NE (October 18, 2023)—With the launch of a partnership with Nebraska’s Educational School Unit #2 (ESU2), we reached a major milestone: PAVE is officially being used in school settings. ESU2 serves 16 public school districts across Nebraska’s Burt, Cuming, Dodge, and Saunders counties. This is a huge milestone for early detection and intervention of human trafficking, particularly for those victims who are not (yet) involved in the criminal justice system.
According to Megan Reese, ESU2’s Trafficking Project Director, “we decided to invest in PAVE as our screening tool because it is Nebraska based. We wanted a tool that was being utilized by other Nebraska agencies. Having a consistent tool utilized across multiple agencies is powerful…PAVE being used in schools will allow staff members to be more aware of potential red flags of human trafficking. Awareness is the first step in prevention and PAVE is a tool that could save students.”
The partnership goes beyond mere software adoption. We worked closely with ESU #2 staff to develop and implement policies and procedures for training school staff on human trafficking, instituting PAVE as a screening tool for select school staff (like school counselors and administrators) to determine when to pull in support from district-level Human Trafficking Youth Prevention Task Force staff with far deeper human trafficking training, who then use PAVE’s in-depth assessment to guide identification and next steps, including referring to DCFS, law enforcement, and other service provider partners using the software.
The likelihood of a woman facing violence for the first time peaks in her teenage years. 14.3% of women in Nebraska have been raped through force or threat of force before becoming an adult. This highlights the importance of getting schools involved in the fight against trafficking for early detection and intervention.
“We are very excited to launch PAVE in our school districts. Equipping staff with the tools that help identify students who are at risk or are being trafficked will save lives. This is a step in the right direction to help improve the safety of our students,” said Reese.
We are piloting with three schools and expanding to 16 schools over a five-year period, culminating in full district coverage serving over 12,000 students across four Nebraska counties.
More information on the overall project can be found here.