The authors aimed to evaluate the Safe Harbors Youth Intervention Project inter-sectoral collaboration to improve continuity and appropriateness of services for sexually exploited children and adolescents. The study was carried on through an intensive, single case study, drawing on interviews and focus groups with experiential youths (n=125) and multi-sectoral stakeholders (n=196), documented activities, and repeated interviews with collaborating team members (n=29), teen clients (n=46) and parents (n=22). The collaboration was designed around an eight-step process for creating victim-centered protocols within and across organizations, altering services to bridge gaps in care, and creating training tools for the different sectors. The results of the study showed an initial needs assessment documented fragmented care and problematic communication across departments and sectors. The shared protocol development among decision makers from each agency, focused on best practices and evidence-based interventions, fostered trusting relationships, improved awareness of different roles and services, and speeded practice changes to remove barriers to care for sexually exploited youths. A task-focused collaboration with a shared community-wide protocol, increases transparency between services, and ongoing inter-sectoral training helps healthcare team foster a meaningful response to sexually exploited youths.
sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, intersectoral collaboration.