Abstract: Examination of Coalition Sustainability Factors in Texas Human Trafficking Coalitions through the Lens of the Community Coalition Action Theory (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

452P Examination of Coalition Sustainability Factors in Texas Human Trafficking Coalitions through the Lens of the Community Coalition Action Theory

Saturday, January 18, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Bryn Stonehouse, MSW, Big Country Human Trafficking Coalition Coordinator, Regional Victim Crisis Center, Abilene, TX
Background and Purpose: The state of Texas ranks number two in the nation for the highest volume of human trafficking, at an estimated 313,000 victims in the state. As awareness of this issue in both Texas and the United States increases, efforts to educate communities, advocate for new policies, and provide services to survivors are on the rise. One strategy utilized by organizations, agencies, and individuals across Texas serving survivors of human trafficking is the use of coalitions. Community coalitions, including anti-human trafficking coalitions, face a multitude of obstacles in their work and ability to remain sustainable. Key factors can hinder or promote coalition sustainability. Limited research addresses coalition sustainability within the context of issues outside healthcare initiatives facing communities, including human trafficking. While coalition practices, particularly through the lens of the Community Coalition Action Theory, are similar, the context to which they operate in can alter the sustainability of the coalition. Due to the limited research surrounding community coalitions and their sustainability, particularly within the context of anti-human trafficking efforts, this research study aims to explore factors of coalition sustainability in Texas human trafficking coalitions through the lens of the Community Coalition Action Theory.

Methods: The present study is a cross-sectional survey study of coalition sustainability in Texas based human trafficking coalitions. It utilized a convenient sample by emailing the points of contact for the 17 human trafficking coalitions in Texas to evaluate coalition effectiveness. The Coalition Effectiveness Inventory was used for measuring major variables. This diagnostic tool addressed key sustainability factors identified in the literature, including leadership characteristics, member engagement, communication, decision making, collaboration, community resources, formalized coalition structures and processes, and evidence-based interventions and evaluations.

Results: The sample of respondents (N=37) were predominantly female (78%), non-Hispanic-White (77%), and members for less than 2 years (67%). The five coalitions represented have predominantly been established for 1-2 years (37.8%). Furthermore, these coalitions predominantly had a membership size of less than 100 (29.7%) or 100 to 200 (27.0%). Descriptive statistics for each of the five coalition sustainability factors were utilized to examine factor effectiveness. Insignificant effects of all factors on coalition sustainability in a multiple linear regression can be attributed to the small sample size. Utilizing single linear regressions, four factors were statistically significant, including “Coalition Processes” (beta=.383, p=.023), “Lead Agency” (beta=.364, p=.029), “Staff and Leadership” (beta=.335, p=.042), and “Coalition Structures” (beta=.331, p=.045).

Conclusions and Implications: While significant limitations are present within this study, particularly the small sample size, implications for Texas based human trafficking coalitions are provided in the study. It is recommended that a coalition’s lead agency, leadership, and staff provide members with clearly defined roles. Moreover, written formalized structures, such as mission statements, goals and objectives, and organizational charts, are recommended to guide the work of the coalition. By improving and implementing these factors into the coalition structures and processes, coalitions will progress through the stages of development and increase overall sustainability.