Social Work Research Team Examining Human Trafficking

Miriam Valdovinos
Rebecca Thomas
Rebecca Thomas
Miriam Valdovinos
Miriam Valdovinos

Dr. Miriam Valdovinos has studied help-seeking behaviors among undocumented Latina women in domestic violence shelters in Seattle. She recently conducted a national webinar sharing her findings and discussing culturally relevant research methodologies for the National Latin@ Network, an organization focused on research, practice, and policy to address domestic violence in the Latin@ community. Dr. Valdovinos is currently collaborating with Dr. Rebecca Thomas, associate professor of social work, and former student Lisa Yagaloff, project coordinator, on a needs-assessment project for the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Council in Connecticut. They are using the United States Department of State’s paradigm for countering sex and labor trafficking—prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnership—to prepare a survey for survivors of human trafficking, as well as clinicians, practitioners, law enforcement officers, attorneys, and FBI agents, “anyone who at any point comes in contact with a survivor,” Dr. Valdovinos explains. “We want to know what services are being provided in the State of Connecticut, and what we are still lacking.” Connecticut is particularly vulnerable to human trafficking because it sits in the corridor between New York and Boston, Dr. Thomas explains. Once the team collects the survey data and conducts multiple focus groups, “the TIP Council will develop an action plan based on the findings to coordinate a response,” Dr. Thomas says.