Funding Agreement Reached for Human Trafficking Victim Advocates

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BISMARCK, ND- Human trafficking victim advocates met with legislators Monday for the last time regarding funding for this biennium.

The debate in the legislature over the amount victim advocates should receive is over.

The Senate originally approved a budget of $1.63 million to go towards sex trafficking victim advocates, but the House lowered it to $1 million. Monday morning, the legislature settled on an number that was acceptable for both sides.

Human trafficking victim advocates across the state pushed for an increase in funding from the state legislature.

Advocates were originally given $1.25 million for the 2015-2017 budget. The legislature made cuts to that number last year and wanted to do the same for the 2019-2021 budget.

Victim services providers, like Youthworks, say they'd need more money to maintain or increase prevention work. However, Christina Sanbor, Program Manager and lobbyist with Youthworks, left the final meeting with a number she was satisified with.

"We're pretty happy with that as, I think, something that's really close to what we need and will help us be able to continue doing the work we're doing at the level we're doing it now," Sandbor says.

House member, Keith Kempenich, says after hearing from lobbyists on new advocacy initiative plans, they were able to agree on $1.4 million-- a number that appeased both sides.

"We weren't going to fight about it that much is for sure because this is an issue in the state, and, so we're going to fund it," Kempenich says.

Sanbor says with a budget of $1.4 million for the coming biennium, victim services will be able to continue the work they're doing to serve victims of human trafficking and domestic violence.

Sanbor says Youthworks was able to help 322 victims from 2016 to 2018 and the number of those helped should continue to increase with more funding.