LAS VEGAS – St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, a community of hope and healing, received a $3 million grant from Clark County to help build a Healing Center with safe homes for child victims of sex trafficking. This comes on the tail of the release of an eight-year study highlighting this serious public, social and mental health concern for the most vulnerable children in Las Vegas.
St. Jude’s Ranch for Children’s Healing Center will help a growing victim population that has been enslaved and has nowhere else to turn. For more than a half century, the charity has been providing services to abused, neglected and homeless children and youth. This residential program is a natural extension of its programs and will provide a nurturing and therapeutic environment, survivor advocates and other critical services to child victims of sex trafficking. It will be the only residential treatment center, with these specific treatment housing options, in Southern Nevada and one of the few in the entire country.
"Clark County is proud to support St. Jude’s Ranch for Children in its efforts to help child victims of sex trafficking," said Commissioner Jim Gibson, whose district includes the facility. "We are saddened that there even needs to be such services, but until we can overcome this issue as a society, we will be there to help those who have fallen victim."
A Las Vegas-based eight-year exploratory study on child sex trafficking conducted by Arizona State University’s Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research with the support of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the National Criminal Justice Training Center, found that of the 833 child victim cases, only 259 were filed.
"The low number of cases filed leads me to believe that children do not feel safe cooperating with police or filing a report. Remember, these are scared kids who have experienced sexual, physical and emotional violence often by a male adult, sometimes a female they considered a friend and sometimes even a family member. They don’t know who to trust," said St. Jude’s Ranch for Children’s Chief Executive Officer Christina Vela. "If they had a place to go where they felt safe, got the treatment they needed and began their healing process, they would be more likely to share their story. If they do, then pimps and johns can be held accountable through prosecution. That is how we help break this cycle. That is why the Healing Center is so critical."
St. Jude’s Ranch for Children has partnered with LGA Architects to create a master plan that includes architectural design and construction costs with an estimated total of $15 million. The charity and has already received a large commitment from a strong community advocate and supporter, The Engelstad Foundation. The $4 million matching grant will serve as a major gift commitment to cap the $15 million capital campaign. With Clark County on board, nearly half of the funds have been raised; the charity will continue to pursue all avenues for funding and is encouraging the rest of the community to donate and help this young enslaved victim population.
ABOUT ST. JUDE’S RANCH FOR CHILDREN For more than 53 years, St. Jude’s Ranch for Children has been a community of healing and hope for children and young people that are victims of abuse and neglect. The 501(c)3 non-profit organization helps children and youth, ages zero to 25, who have been abused, neglected, exploited and/or homeless, by providing safety, stability and healing in a caring environment. St. Jude’s Ranch for Children offers customized therapy, high-quality residential and transitional housing programs, and numerous supportive services, as well as opportunities to keep families and siblings together and spend time together when separated in foster care. The charity’s ultimate focus is to break the cycle of abuse and help children and young people become thriving positive members of the community. For more information visit www.stjudesranch.org or get social with us @StJudesRanch for Facebook and Twitter or stjudesranchforchildren on Instagram.