Â The Cook County Stateâ€™s Attorney’s Office has been chosen as one of only four governmental agencies in the nation to receive federal funding from the U.S. Department of Justice to expand efforts to combat the human trafficking of minor children, Cook County Stateâ€™s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced.Â
The grant will provide the Stateâ€™s Attorneyâ€™s Office with $300,000 over the course of two years to be used for training, programming and support for social service agencies to link children at risk or those involved in commercial sexual exploitation to essential services.
“We are honored to have been selected as one of the four agencies to receive this important grant after a nationwide submission process,â€ Alvarez said.Â â€œThis funding will help us greatly in our ongoing efforts to investigate and prosecute the sex trafficking of minors and to help provide important social services to children who become caught up in the sex trade.â€
The announcement of the grant comes on the heels of passage of the Illinois Safe Children Act, a new law that enhances protections for juveniles caught in the sex trade and provides new legal tools to police and prosecutors to target those who prostitute children. Alvarez was instrumental in passage of the legislation and her office has led the charge in efforts to address the issue, forming a first-of-its-kind Human Trafficking Initiative to investigate and prosecute these cases.Â
Funding from the grant will be used to provide specialized training for assistant stateâ€™s attorneys to help them identify potential human trafficking victims when they come to court on seemingly unrelated cases.Â Resources will also be designated to establish a new staff position to monitor trafficking cases as they go through the criminal justice system and to help ensure that victims are put in touch with appropriate counseling and support services.