The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Trauma Informed Case Management for Human Trafficking: The Importance of Evaluation and Evidence-Based Practice

Thursday, January 17, 2013: 3:30 PM-5:15 PM
Marina 6 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
Cluster: Crime and Criminal Justice
Kristin Heffernan, PhD, State University of New York College at Brockport, Betty J. Blythe, PhD, Boston College, Andrea Cole, MSW, Elmhurst Hospital and Andre' Ivanoff, PhD, Columbia University
As the U.S. government recognizes the vast scope of human trafficking, social workers will be called upon to develop and deliver evidence-based services for survivors. The purpose of this roundtable is to first provide a case example of a systematic evaluation of the process and outcomes of a program that developed a trauma-informed case management method to assist survivors of human trafficking. Second, presenters will discuss the importance of program evaluation as a key step in assessing service provision by social agencies.   Attendees will learn skills to conduct a process evaluation, knowledge of trauma-informed case management, and why evaluation is important.  The trauma-informed case management method being evaluated contains the following elements:
  • The impact of the trauma of human trafficking on the clients’ development and coping strategies is recognized by validating these experiences throughout the helping process.  
  • An empowerment model whereby the case manager works to establish a collaborative relationship between the client and the provider; helping clients to understand that they have the right to refuse services; working to ensure that clients are active planners and participants in the services they choose or request; and helping to maximize the clients’ control of service provision choice.
  • An understanding that the client’s safety must be a priority and that trust is developed over time in order to reduce the chance of re-traumatization of the client.
  • Creating an atmosphere of respect and acceptance, so as to allow clients to voice their experience if they wish.

All too often, seemingly effective agency practices are not submitted to any form of evaluation.  The case management approach discussed here was assessed via a program evaluation model that centers on the concept of program adherence, process factors, and success.  Program adherence is the objective estimation of the implementation fidelity related to actual service delivery (Law & Shek, 2011).   Practice effectiveness refers to the extent to which the services provided yield their intended results (Cournoyer, 2004).  Success is based on feedback from clients.

This is original research having implications for practice with survivors of human trafficking.  Evaluation of the adherence to and effectiveness of the program’s trauma-informed case management allows practitioners and educators insight into methods of case management that have proven effectiveness which, in turn, aids social workers in protecting their clients and enhances their credibility while adhering to the social work profession’s code of ethics.

See more of: Roundtables