Georgia, U.S.A.: New Program to Rehabilitate Formerly Prostituted Girls
Thursday, October 15, 2009 10:10 AM

On 1 July 2009, the state of Georgia launched the Georgia Care Coordination program to support girls who have been prostituted. With a $991,000 budget from the federal welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the program aims to rehabilitate and serve the unique needs of formerly prostituted minors instead of putting them in jail. Georgia Care Coordination is a result of the efforts of the “A Future, Not a Past” coalition formed in 2007 through the Atlanta-based Juvenile Justice Fund, the Atlanta Women’s Foundation, and a private family foundation in order to fight prostitution in Georgia.


Thus far, eight girls have enrolled in the program and live in residential facilities in Atlanta which are meant to provide a family atmosphere. Participants receive educational support, mental health counseling, and physical and psychological assistance. Additionally, the girls participate in rehabilitative activities such as yoga classes, tending horses, West African drumming, and journalism through a teen newspaper based in Atlanta. Georgia Care Coordination also helps program participants receive accredited schooling so graduates can enter classes in age-appropriate grades after leaving the program.


Georgia Care Coordination also involves the families of the girls in the program. Jennifer E. Bennecke, executive director of the Governor's Office of Children and Families, claims that this an important aspect of the program because “eventually, the girl is going to go back to her family and one of the things in system of care is that we take care of the needs of whole family, not just the child” (Women’s eNews).


A plan is developed for each participant with the engagement of officials and experts in the fields of law enforcement, mental health, the court system and the Division of Family and Children Services, and the primary state agency investigating child abuse. Bennecke added that in addition to these officials, “the child and family are in the room and are an integral part of making the case plan. They are an active voice in making that plan for themselves” (Women’s eNews).


It is hoped that other states implement similar programs in order to discourage pimps and traffickers from simply moving their business to the surrounding states as Georgia cracks down on their criminal activity.


Compiled from: Diane Loupe, “Georgia Reaches Out to Girls Lost in 'the Life'Women’s eNews. (7 October 2009.)