In this quarter’s Program Spotlight, we highlight the efforts of TurnAround, Inc. of Baltimore City and Baltimore County and their important programs that serve survivors of sexual assault.
1. What is your name, title, and how long have you been with your organization?
Rosalyn Branson, Chief Executive Officer – 12 years
Amanda Rodriguez, Chief Program Officer – 3 years
2. Why are you a member of MCASA?
Our day to day work is with individual survivors and within the Baltimore City and County communities. MCASA is how we promote change on a larger scale. They gather information from all providers across the state and share it with state leaders. Through their efforts we are able to influence legislation and policy that have a direct impact on our clients. In addition, because MCASA brings all rape crisis center providers together, it facilitates communication about everything from best practices in the field to timely awareness of trends or problems that might impact our work.
3.Tell us about your organization’s current prevention activities.
Prevention programming at TurnAround comes primarily through our Community Education and Training, and Anti-Trafficking departments. Our “CET” team spends time in schools, at times with students as young as 5, discussing appropriate touch and relationships. We also provide outreach to 10 local colleges and universities, where educators conducted awareness campaigns and directed discussions on the topic of sexual assault. This year those activities included the topic of bystander intervention, which will hopefully be the impetus for the community acknowledging and working to eliminate sexual assaults on and off campus.
In our Anti-Trafficking department, youth-focused case managers received a number of referrals for high-risk children. As a result, we developed psycho-educational groups specifically for young women and men who have risk factors for recruitment. We also adapted our case management and advocacy model to provide support for those young people.
4. What are some recent events you would like to tell us about? Any upcoming events?
We recently released our Purple Poetry Book, which is an annual publication of poetry, prose and art by the survivors we serve. The release is connected with a community event that is always well attended and highly anticipated. This year featured a number of pieces by youth engaged in our Anti-Trafficking program. The publication reminds us of the significance of the Rape Crisis Center in the community we serve, and the resilience and strength of our clients.
We are currently preparing for Trafficking Awareness Month (January) with a social media campaign, and for multiple events to highlight Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.
5. One of MCASA’s top priorities is to advocate for additional funding for rape crisis centers. In 2017, the General Assembly passed the Sexual Assault Victims Resources Act of 2017, which provides dedicated and increased funds for rape crisis centers. What does TurnAround, Inc. hope to do with this funding?
We currently provide both trauma counseling and advocacy services to survivors of sexual assault. However, these funds will provide the needed resources to expand our advocacy to provide more direct support to survivors involved in the legal system. In addition to the education and information we currently provide, we will provide specialized information sessions on both criminal and civil victim rights. It will also enable us to provide advocate accompaniment throughout legal proceedings.
6. Tell us about the work TurnAround does for human trafficking survivors.
TurnAround’s services for sex trafficking survivors began in 2012 in response to a community partner’s plea for assistance for a trafficked young woman. We identified a significant need in the community to expand current sexual assault services to encompass this type of abuse. This led to serving nearly 200 survivors of trafficking last year.
We provide case management, basic needs, employment readiness and therapy to our trafficking clients. These services are often on a drop-in basis. We also have partnerships with the Department of Juvenile Services and local group homes to provide screening, assessments and services to children in detention and diagnostic facilities. In 2015, we added additional directed outreach efforts including participation in specialized court diversion through the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office and street outreach in areas known for trafficking within our jurisdiction.
TurnAround staff is also heavily involved with training and policy advocacy on the issue of human trafficking.