Every year, 1.2 million children are exploited around the globe. Here in the East Bay, we are far from immune from child trafficking, and it’s not just a problem in “bad” neighborhoods. From the Tri-Valley to Concord, from Livermore to Berkeley, children struggle with the effects of these crimes.
One of the most disturbing forms of trafficking involves the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), which refers to a range of crimes. Our communities need more places that help children who are victims if we are to make a real difference in combatting trafficking.
Research is clear: the most effective road to recovery for children who are victims of these crimes involves returning to a healthy life, getting an education, and interacting with people in the community. Many compassionate East Bay communities want to support efforts to reach and help young people affected by exploitation here in our own backyard. We believe it is possible to help these children recover from abuse and regain their childhood.
We know that community-based solutions work, but the location of facilities to help these children sometimes creates fear and concern from local neighborhoods. We recognize these concerns. The key to supporting successful futures for victims of crime is to learn the facts and to engage in frequent and timely communication at the community level. We encourage you to learn more about child exploitation here in the East Bay and how programs like Claire’s House can make a difference, and we are committed to providing the information and tools to aid that dialogue.
The children who will live at Claire’s House are powerful, inspiring young people between the ages of 12 and 17. They have made the decision to get away from their exploiters, to seek help, and to reclaim their lives. Each child at Claire’s House is a victim of a crime. They do not come directly from the street. Claire’s House is not an alternative to jail, not an emergency shelter, not a drop-off site, and not a crisis center. It’s a home. Claire’s House referrals come from community and social service organizations.
Not every child who has been exploited is a candidate for Claire’s House. Because we are committed to the success of the children in our program, referral standards are rigorous. Each must pass security and health screenings to ensure they pose minimal risk to themselves or those around them. Each must demonstrate a commitment to moving forward and reclaiming their lives.
Claire’s House is staffed by a highly skilled, multi-cultural, and cross-disciplinary team of professionals and members of the community. Our staffing structure reflects our commitment to indigenous and youth-defined healing and recovery. Each staff member at Claire’s House is required by state law to possess either a Bachelor’s degree, 12 units of early childhood education, a substance abuse counselor certification, a teaching credential, or at least one year of professional experience serving CSEC or homeless youth.
Christopher Martinez serves as Chief Program Officer for Catholic Charities East Bay and Executive Team Liaison for Claire’s House. He joined Catholic Charities in October 2014. In his own words, Christopher speaks to his passion for helping others “I value the people I work with and the community we serve, because I have walked the same steps. Giving back to the community is not just my job, it is my calling.”
Leah Kimble-Price has been working with children who are victims of exploitation for more than 12 years. A proud third-generation Oakland native, she began working with trafficked youth as a crisis clinician in 2006 at Alameda County’s Assessment Center. Her expertise and research focus on the experiences of marginalized and abused children (such as child soldiers, foster youth and victims of trafficking) and communities that seek to embrace them after trauma. She has been a Licensed MFT since 2012 and joined Catholic Charities in March 2017
Claire’s House is NOT A SHELTER because it is long term non-emergency housing; the average length of stay is 6-9 months; the ideal length of stay of 12-18 months. We are closing the gap for youth who have moved beyond the crisis.
Claire’s House is NOT AN EMERGENCY PLACEMENT because our admissions process is extensive and thorough and can take up to 8 business days. We are a voluntary placement and expect thoughtful consideration by candidates. Someone seeking emergency shelter is not a good fit.
Claire’s House is NOT A SAFEHOUSE because we are designed to be confidential, just like anyone’s home address, but we are not in a secret location. We do not serve people who need to hide or are running from something/someone.
Claire’s House is NOT A FIRST RESPONDER because we do not provide crisis response services and do not engage in search & rescue or emergency intervention for trafficking situations.
HomeAid Northern California
Sisters of the Holy Family
WHA, Inc. (William Hezmalhalch Architects)
The Boscacci Foundation
The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
David and Sharon McCosker
Julie Ann McCosker-Hayes
JaMel and Tom Perkins