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Commercially Sexually Exploited Children
The Bridge Program
"For too long we’ve looked at prostitution as a victimless crime. This fails to acknowledge the often tragic backgrounds of the girls who are drawn into the culture of prostitution and those who are forced into it. It is unconscionable, in my opinion, to view a 13-year-old prostitute as anything but a victim." Sue Rahr, King County Sheriff
After years of planning, and through the support of many generous donors and foundations, the City of Seattle and a number of community partners have raised funds to support a three-year pilot project, formerly referred to as the Residential Recovery Program for Prostituted Youth, but now officially named The Bridge Program. See the Seattle Times article on the program.
The program is up and running and provides six beds in a home-like setting and comprehensive wraparound services for an estimated 20 young people, between the ages of 14 and 17, per year.
The program delivers services in a highly structured environment, with activities designed to meet both the individual and collective needs of participants. It includes:
There is a full-time mental health provider and chemical dependency counselor on staff. Most importantly, program participants are provided with a safe, supportive, and secured environment to heal, grow, and explore the opportunities awaiting them as young adults.
The Bridge Program will be professionally evaluated to ensure that the services provided are working, and that the program has met its goal of helping program participants heal from abuse and achieve personal goals to reach their full potential.
The Seattle Human Services Department has contracted YouthCare to deliver the above-described residential recovery services. YouthCare is a Seattle-based 501c3 nonprofit agency with extensive experience as a service provider for homeless and underserved youth.
United Way of King County has contracted with YouthCare to provide two dedicated beds for commercially sexually exploited children in YouthCare’s existing shelter. While living at the shelter, and in addition to receiving comprehensive services, commercially sexually exploited youth will be assessed for their readiness to enter the Bridge Program.
To date, funding for the Bridge Program has been provided by the City of Seattle, King County through the Mental Illness and Drug Dependency fund, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Women's Funding Alliance, Soroptimist International Seattle, the Northwest Children's Fund, the Norcliffe Foundation, the Dorsey and Whitney Foundation, and many private donors.
Accessing the Bridge Program
YouthCare's Emergency Shelter
For referrals or questions, please call YouthCare’s Shelter at 1-800-495-7802, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
Commercially sexually exploited youth in need of short-term, emergency shelter may be referred to YouthCare's Shelter program. Shelter serves youth ages 12-17 in a trauma-informed setting and offers basic care, case management and fun activities. The Shelter program is designed to accept youth 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Bridge Program: Long-term Residential Recovery Services
For referrals or questions, please call YouthCare's The Bridge at 206-985-0444 (Mon-Fri from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) In a unique residential setting, The Bridge Program provides youth ages 14-17 with comprehensive services. The Bridge Program is located in an un-disclosed location.
Community-Based Advocacy and Case Management
For referrals or questions please call 206-303-9383 (Mon-Fri from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Seattle Human Services Department
Accommodations for people with disabilities provided upon request.