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Child & Family Services Partners with International Institute of Buffalo to Continue Youth Labor Trafficking Programs

By June 8, 2023No Comments

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Media Contacts:

Mary Czopp, Child & Family Services   716.335.7050

Gabe DiMaio, International Institute of Buffalo, 716.970.2357


Child & Family Services Partners with International Institute of Buffalo to Continue Youth Labor Trafficking Programs

U.S. Department of Justice funding to continue in WNY

(BUFFALO, New York)—The International Institute of Buffalo (IIB) and Child & Family Services (C&FS) will partner to continue a pilot Minor Victims of Labor Trafficking program for our region that started in early 2022 through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The program is also partially funded by Erie County’s Safe Harbor grant award, which is focused on serving youth at risk of labor trafficking. Through this arrangement, the organizations together can guarantee continued services to a vulnerable population—local youth at risk of sex trafficking and those who have been subjected to labor trafficking – while ensuring that $665,000 in federal funding will remain in Western New York.

Intervening to support youth survivors and targets of human trafficking aligns well with our mission to strengthen families and children through prevention, intervention, education and advocacy,” said C&FS President and CEO Elizabeth McPartland. “C&FS works in partnership with a plethora of systems integral to supporting this population, including criminal justice, healthcare, child welfare, and residential systems. We are well positioned to ensure this network of support continues to serve Western New York minors who are at risk of human trafficking.”

“We are thrilled to find such a strong partner in C&FS,” said IIB Executive Director Jennifer Rizzo-Choi. “While the International Institute will continue to focus on our historic mission to serve the many needs of immigrants and refugees in Western New York, we are confident that this partnership deepens local capacity to meet the distinct but often adjacent needs of youth human trafficking survivors and youth at risk of trafficking in our community for the long term.”

In the coming weeks, IIB will transfer over 100 potential youth clients who had been previously placed on a wait list and those waiting to continue services to C&FS team. C&FS will work with IIB over the coming months to recruit and train a workforce to fully support these programs, with technical support and training provided by funders and other experts in the field. The goal will be to build up organizational capacity and technical expertise at C&FS for trafficking case management services for the youth population, and to expand regional partnerships for trafficking work.

Child & Family Services Sits at the Nexus of Agencies, Organizations Serving Survivors

C&FS possesses significant experience working with victims of many kinds of crime in Western New York through programs including domestic violence intervention and programming within its Center for Resolution and Justice. In addition, C&FS has extensive experience providing case management services to high-risk youth, including programs designed to prevent out of home placement for kids with psychiatric needs, those with severe behavioral challenges, and those who have experienced significant trauma.  Building from this longstanding experience serving youth who meet the criteria of those at risk for human trafficking.

C&FS will hire approximately four to five staff to work with minor victims of trafficking. C&FS and IIB are excited to continue working together in a way which allows IIB to focus on its mission to welcome, connect and empower the foreign born, and encourage the region’s support for different cultures while also continuing to be a leader in serving human trafficking survivors in WNY.

DOJ Confirms Long-Term Investment in Trafficking Services in WNY

IIB received the DOJ Minor Victims of Labor Trafficking grant award in late 2021, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and shortly before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, events that brought hundreds of evacuees to Buffalo.

“Our staff members were doing their best to meet a huge volume of rapidly evolving needs during an uncertain environment,” Rizzo-Choi said.

As an organization that is fully dedicated to its mission, and sensitive to the intense demands and uncertainty in the external environment in recent years, IIB and its board felt it timely to conduct an internal audit. In 2023 IIB commenced a review of its operations, programs, and charter with the help of the law firm Bond Schoeneck and King, aiming to ensure it honors its mission at all levels of the organization. Based on this comprehensive data collection approach, IIB determined that some programming for trafficking survivors was out of its core mission of serving foreign-born individuals and communities. IIB then engaged in a process involving the DOJ, elected officials, funders, the consulting firm APA Solutions, and other community stakeholders to find a suitable partner to ensure the long-term continuation of some programs and services.

IIB’s youth trafficking programs are currently paused. C&FS is working with IIB, the DOJ, and other funding sources to ensure it is positioned to start serving youth on the waiting list and resume services as soon as possible. IIB will continue to handle reporting and other administrative functions for these programs in partnership with C&FS through the end of the grant term.

About the International Institute of Buffalo 

For over 100 years, the International Institute of Buffalo (IIB) has made Western New York a better place for, and because of, immigrants and refugees. We’re the most trusted and experienced agency, providing more comprehensive, vital services to new American arrivals than any other organization in our region, including resettlement, integration, job training, domestic violence/human trafficking survivor support, and interpretation and translation services. We are non-sectarian, meaning we always have (and always will) help all immigrants and refugees in need, no matter their religion, race, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity. Aside from being the “Ellis Island of Western New York,” IIB is the conduit between our community and the rest of the world, hosting international delegations and foreign dignitaries. We also educate students about other countries and their cultures, underscoring the importance of international diplomacy with programs such as the Model UN.


About Child & Family Services

Founded in 1873, C&FS relies on its generations of expertise and multi-faceted programs to provide the people of its region with essential resources. C&FS is a not-for-profit organization accredited by the Council on Accreditation and a member agency of the United Way. It serves children, adults, and families in the eight counties of Western New York without regard to race, creed, national origin, or economic status. Learn more at