Based in King County, Washington, ConnectUP is and is a specialized pilot program designed to provide coordinated services to children and youth who have experienced, or are at risk of experiencing, commercial sexual exploitation, and to the individuals and families who provide care for these children. Our goal is to build meaningful connections between young people and their caregivers and to increase stability and long-term positive outcomes. At this time, this pilot program provides services for children and youth who are involved in the child welfare system with an open Washington State DCYF case in Regions 3 or 4. Through our team of partner agencies, we can connect children and families to an array of services including specialized advocacy services, case consults and couching for caregivers and social workers, in home therapy and crisis response services, short and long-term placement options, and family finding services, among others.
In the summer of 2015 the King County CSEC Task Force convened a group of stakeholders tasked with addressing the overlap between commercial sexual exploitation and the child welfare system in Washington State. This group identified the need for therapeutic foster homes dedicated to serving children who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation as a priority, and set out to find and support families who would be willing to open their homes to these children. Since that time, this idea has grown into a multi-agency program and has added an array of additional services and supports.