180 Degrees opens shelter for underage victims of sex trafficking

The Safe and Sound Shelter for Girls is designed specifically for girls ages 10-17 who have been victims of sex trafficking. The shelter opened on Aug. 1. (Kaylin Creason/Review)

Safe and Sound Shelter aids girls ages 10-17

The Safe and Sound Shelter for Girls, a safe haven designed for girls ages 10-17 who have been victims of sex trafficking, opened Friday, Aug. 1 on the East Side.

The shelter is operated by 180 Degrees, a Minneapolis-based organization that seeks to turn lives around and ensure safer communities.

The 14-bed shelter opened just as Minnesota’s Safe Harbor laws came into effect on Aug. 1. The law decriminalizes prostitution charges for youths under 18, increases the penalties for buyers (johns) and creates a statewide system for helping sexually exploited youth.

The shelter is also known as Brittany’s Place in memory of Brittany Clardy, an 18-year old St. Paul woman whose frozen body was found last year in the trunk of a car in a Columbia Heights impound lot. Investigators believe she was a victim of sex trafficking.

Three or four girls are currently staying in the shelter, according to Brianna Miller, development and communications coordinator at 180 Degrees.

“It’s been going very well,” said Miller. “We’ve got our processes in place as far as intake and bringing them in; we’re getting activities coordinated, (and) the girls have expressed positive feedback about their experiences so far.”

Miller estimated that most girls will stay at the shelter for 60-90 days.

The $3 million shelter was designed specifically for young victims of sex trafficking. It aims to be a safe, welcoming and effective place for girls to heal physically, emotionally and psychologically and to reclaim their lives.

Safe and Sound’s resources include counseling, drug treatment and other rehabilitative and educational programs. Its all-female staff includes a therapist, case manager and director, as well as eight youth workers who will help with day-to-day upkeep and activities, including excursions like shopping, walking around a park and other things that the girls can do “to be a girl again,” said Amanda Collier, clinical director for 180 Degrees.

The shelter is currently working on an arrangement with the St. Paul Public Schools that will enable the girls to return to school.

“We’re trying to reestablish things that they might not be accustomed to right now and letting these girls be girls. That’s really our hope,” Collier said.

Kaylin Creason can be reached at staffwriter@lillienews.com and at 651-748-7825.


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