Georgia Cares was created as an initiative of the Governor’s Office for Children and Families in 2009. In 2013, Georgia Cares became a 501(c)(3) entity in an effort to grow in our capacity to serve victims through a public-private partnership. Georgia Cares is now an independent, non-profit organization working to serve child sex trafficking victims across the State of Georgia. Georgia Cares is the single, statewide coordinating agency to connect services and treatment care for victims. Through research informed practices and evidence based assessments, we coordinate services to meet all needs and dimensions of a child’s wellbeing. Staff follows victims throughout their process of treatment and recovery to lead healthy, successful lives as productive members of society.
Reflecting on the history of this issue and our agency is often helpful towards understanding where we have come, and the road that still needs to be traveled to address and eradicate this heinous crime.
In 2008, the State of Georgia was introduced to the issue of human trafficking. The Governor of Georgia decided to take a proactive approach to learning about CSEC; which was in line with the State's approach to serving vulnerable children. The Governor turned to a executive attached agency to research and establish a plan for addressing the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) in Metro Atlanta. This agency was the Governor's Office for Children and Families (GOCF).
For years, the effort to end DMST had garnered local grassroots support and advocacy in Georgia as awareness of labor and sex trafficking grew. In 2008, the Governor's Office for Children and Families established a Task Force to address the need for a unified protocol to serve children who were commercially sexually exploited. GOCF, who was charged by the Governor with the statewide response to trafficking, wanted to approach the issue with a holistic view; looking at the continuum of exploitation and trafficking. Later, in 2009, the Georgia General Assembly appropriated funds to GOCF to fund their statewide response to CSEC in Georgia. It was of utmost concern that while prevention and reducing the demand were important, there were child victims being exploited and there was no one to help them. With this sentiment, GOCF created the Georgia Care Connection Office, now Georgia Cares, as the identification and intervention portions of the State response and continuum in June 2009.
Georgia Cares fulfills the identification and intervention portions of the statewide response. Georgia Cares also fulfills a portion of the State's infrastructure development area. The strategy for infrastructure development includes establishing a car system for trafficked children by providing assessment, treatment and aftercare services, building capacity for other Georgia cities to respond to child trafficking and exploitation, and increasing the use of the Multidisciplinary Team Information System (MDTIS) for tracking children who enter state systems. Additionally, Georgia Cares attends professional and community trainings to identify, serve, and raise awareness about Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and Exploitation.