The Mercy Health – Toledo Trauma Recovery Center (TRC) in collaboration with the Lucas County Prosecutor’s Office is pleased to announce a new initiative that expands human trafficking prevention education, direct intervention services, and training to area youth at risk of victimization.

Gov. Mike DeWine recently awarded Mercy Health $145,000 as part of an effort to develop and implement human trafficking prevention programs across Ohio. The grants are from a collaboration between the Governor’s Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund (OCTF), and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’ (ODJFS) Children’s Justice Act Task Force.

As a result of the grant, members of the TRC as well as Prosecutor Julia Bates’ Victim-Witness Assistance program were trained to help educate and offer services to vulnerable minors ages 11-17, specifically in the area of human trafficking prevention.

“The Mercy Health – Trauma Recovery Center has been essential in helping those who have suffered as a result of violent crime and now we’re looking for similar success in helping at-risk youth as we focus on victimization prevention,” said Bob Baxter, president, Mercy Health – Toledo. “Mercy Health is thankful to both Gov. DeWine for his support of these efforts and to Prosecutor Bates for her collaboration as we tackle this important issue.”

“I think that anything we can do as a collaborative to help at-risk youth in our community we should make every effort to do,” said Prosecutor Bates. “This is a community problem and together we can help with solutions, comfort, care, and compassion. We are excited to be partnering with the Mercy Health Toledo Trauma Recovery Center on this initiative."

OraLee Macklenar, supervisor, Mercy Health – Toledo Trauma Recovery Center, noted the OCTF’s Human Trafficking Prevention Youth Curriculum will allow her team to offer proactive victimization prevention to at-risk youth through the use of psychosocial support groups, psychotherapy, and case management services.

The fundamental goals of the initiative are to promote safety, stabilization and engagement for the youth involved as well as helping to restore their faith in humanity and building their sense of empowerment.

“The Mercy Health TRC is looking forward to working collaboratively with our community to educate these youth that are at risk.” OraLee said. “We have been working with children and adults that have already been victimized by some sort of crime since we opened our doors to the TRC. With this grant, we are able to put our energy and time into prevention in hopes that we will serve less victims.”

The Mercy Health – Toledo Trauma Recovery Center is a grant-funded outpatient program that provides services to victims of crime. With the help of a Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant through the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, trauma recovery services are available to residents who have been a victim of crime. A clinical team of licensed social workers, clinical counselors and a victim advocate help provide service to adults, children and their family members.

Mercy Health – Toledo TRC is the only Trauma Recovery Center of its kind in northwest Ohio. Since its inception in 2018, the center has worked with more than 1,500 clients, most of whom were referred through Lucas County courts and local emergency rooms. Those receiving help are victims of crime, including abuse, assault, domestic violence, stalking and/or human trafficking.

In keeping with Mercy Health’s mission to care for our communities, with emphasis on the poor, dying and underserved, Mercy Health is working to build the overall health of area residents in the zip codes surrounding central city Toledo. Together with our partners, Mercy Health continues to make significant strides in addressing health and wellness concerns by focusing on chronic disease management, maternal-fetal health, and economic development.