Foster Care & Human Trafficking

Love the clothes, Love the cause.

Elisabeth Balistreri

The House of Providence clothing line is helping us expand and bring heart to an industry that is so often heartless! Find out more about the origins of the HOP pop up store and how you can help prevent child trafficking, support survivors, and disrupt generational cycles of trauma and pain.

Forged in fire, the House of Providence clothing line was created in response to the challenges we faced in 2020.

While a large portion of our operating costs are covered by the state, it wouldn’t be possible to provide the level of care we do in our homes without our donors; nearly a third of our funding comes from private donations, and since opening our doors in 2012, we have primarily fundraised through in-person events, like our popular Comedy for a Cause and Wishes Gala. 

But not in 2020. COVID couldn’t stop us from loving our little ones back to life, but it did stop all of our fundraising events!

Thus was born the House of Providence clothing line--a new way to fundraise and spread awareness of our work throughout all this madness and beyond.

Fashion with heart

When we first had the idea of starting a clothing line, we saw the opportunity for it to serve several purposes; it’s a very effective way to raise money and spread awareness of our cause, but one of the greatest side effects is the ability to bring heart to an industry that is so often heartless.

The textile industry is known for exploiting people at every stage of production, and brands with the highest mark-ups are some of the worst offenders.

But we are committed to helping children in an industry notorious for exploiting them. We ensure 100% of our supply chain for everything we produce is free of slave labor, and we adhere to high standards for the ethical treatment of workers.

Human Trafficking and Foster Care

There are more slaves today than at any point in human history. Human trafficking is the fastest growing industry in the world, generating an estimated $150 billion a year. It’s estimated that there are 40.3 million slaves in the world today--1 in 4 being children. 

In our homes, we are no strangers to the horrors of human trafficking. Children in foster care are exceptionally vulnerable to trafficking; the vast majority of children rescued from sex trafficking in the U.S. were in foster care when they went missing. Some of those children end up in our homes, and we walk with them towards healing.

Children in foster care are actively targeted by traffickers both because their unmet needs leave them open to manipulation and their lack of support systems make it less likely that people will look for them if they go missing. Children in group foster homes are at even higher risk; traffickers are known for sending their girls into group foster homes to lure others into trafficking.

Traffickers recognize the wounds and vulnerabilities left by past abuse and unmet needs and use them to lure people into trafficking. They scout their victims and use grooming tactics--gaining their trust by giving them gifts, love, attention, and often drugs--to emotionally manipulate them into submitting to uglier and uglier behavior until they finally submit to trafficking.

Those who have previously experienced abuse are often targeted by traffickers because they’re already desensitized to abusive behavior and seen as easier to manipulate. Children in foster care are 10 times more likely to experience abuse than children living with both biological parents. 

Few populations are more at risk for trafficking than children in foster care because few populations have a higher level of need for both physical and emotional security. 

By the numbers

Only a very small percentage of trafficking victims are rescued, so it’s difficult to know the extent to which children in foster care are victimized. However, we can see from the demographics of those who are rescued that children in foster care--especially those in group homes--are at a very high risk of being trafficked:

  • In 2013, 60% of children recovered from sex trafficking as part of a nationwide FBI raid in 70 cities were in foster care when they went missing.
  • In 2012, Connecticut reported 88 child victims of sex trafficking. 86 were child welfare involved, and most reported experiencing abuse while in foster care.
  • In Los Angeles County, of 72 commercially sexually exploited girls, 56 were child welfare involved.
  • In Alameda County, 55% of children rescued from sex trafficking over a year were in group foster homes when they went missing.
  • Of children reported missing to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children who are also likely sex trafficking victims, 60% were in foster care when they ran away. However, many children rescued from trafficking were in foster care when they went missing, but were never reported as missing.

The Solution

People become more vulnerable to trafficking when their needs aren’t being met. This is true of adults, and it’s especially true of children. Children without homes or families--who feel abandoned, alone, worthless, and hopeless--are easier to lure into trafficking and less likely to have people looking for them.

Placing children in the arms of loving, safe, and supportive networks--into support systems that meet not only their basic physical needs, but also their complex emotional needs--is one of the best ways to fight child trafficking. If a child feels loved--if they feel like someone would care if bad things happened to them--they’ll be less likely to fall for the predatory schemes of traffickers.

House of Providence provides that support system--and provides it permanently. Aging out is not an option for our kids, and every child who completes our program leaves the foster care system permanently through their forever family. We’ve seen so much success with our model that we’re planning to expand nationwide, and we recently received national accreditation to do so.

By shopping the House of Providence clothing line, you are preventing child trafficking, supporting survivors, and disrupting generational cycles of trauma and pain. Your generosity is invaluable in expanding our mission--until every child has a home!

Until every child has a home

We exist to instill hope in children who have only known the intense instability of foster care by emulating the unconditional love of a healthy family to them.

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