Group Seeking Shelter for Kids Affected by Sex Trafficking
Jennifer Gaines was 14 years old when she got recruited into prostitution.
"He said if I loved him I would help him out by turning tricks to make some money," Gaines said.
By 17 Gaines was a drug addict. By 18 she was in prison. Gaines says she spent 28 years working as a prostitute.
"Had they had services like what they are trying to get now, maybe I wouldn't have been out there so long and have lost so much," Gaines said.
On Tuesday, Gaines and other victims told their stories to the Senate Health and Human Services Finance Committee at the capitol. They want $13.5 million to provide shelter, housing, and treatment for people who need help here now.
"While we sit here, 2013, there's 4 designated shelter beds in the entire state of Minnesota for children who have been sex trafficked," Jeff Bauer, of the Family Partnership Organization said.
So what they are proposing is a state wide system, a first of it's kind in Minnesota.
"So regardless if you are a child who is found in Duluth or Thief River Falls or down in Mankato or Worthington or wherever you might be, there's a shelter bed waiting for you," Bauer said.
Gaines says the organization "Breaking Free" in St. Paul helped her turn her life around, that and the birth of her daughter.
"I named her Destiny because I knew she was going to be the child to change my destiny," Gaines said.
So what happens now, the groups proposal could be included in the omnibus budget bill. In the next week or two both the senate and house will debate on what is in and what's out. They have bi-partisan support but moral support is not going to help these kids.