June 21, 2018 -- County Executive George Latimer announced that the Westchester County Department of Social Services (DSS) is tackling the issue of sex trafficking head-on, by implementing the “Safe Harbour” Program. The Safe Harbour Program identifies youth who have been trafficked, sexually exploited or are at risk of victimization, and ensures that they are removed from dangerous situations. Westchester was one of 5 original counties to have been selected by New York State to implement the Program in 2013, to develop expertise and provide guidance on preventing sex trafficking to neighboring counties.

Latimer said: “I am proud that Westchester County is taking the lead to combat sex trafficking in our communities. We must continue to support and work closely with our local departments and community partners, to help raise awareness on this important issue, and ensure that fewer youth are falling victim to sex trafficking.”

DSS works in partnership with a number of different County Departments on sex trafficking cases to ensure that all needs are met, including Public Safety, Probation, Community Mental Health, the Office for Women and a number of community service providers.

To date more than 130 runaway and sexually trafficked youth have been recovered in Westchester. The County also received a $25,000 grant from the State to safeguard and protect youth that are aging out of foster care. Two private investigators have been tasked with seeking out missing youth from the County’s foster care system, and trauma response services have been provided.

Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Social Services Kevin McGuire said: “As one of the five original New York counties to begin Safe Harbor work in 2013, the Department has become a model throughout the State, providing intensive trauma focused services to nearly 500 Westchester youth who have been trafficked or are at risk for trafficking, and have partnered with two private investigators to recover missing youth who are at greatest risk for trafficking.  Through this program, we work closely with law enforcement, do not give up on these youth, and provide youth and their families with the specialized services they need to escape the perpetrators.”