Hearts for Freedom Project Resource Guide


As the largest facility designed specifically for girls in the state, Heartland has served trafficked girls since its inception in 1992. In recent years, we witnessed an increase of girls coming to our programs who are at-risk or have already been sexually exploited. We became aware of the incredible lack of available beds and appropriate services to ensure that exploited girls get the help that they need to move past their victimization to become empowered and healthy young women as they grow into adulthood.

The vision for the Hearts for Freedom Guide Project was born in 2011, when Heartland Girls’ Ranch was awarded a grant from the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, MN Girls Are Not For Sale Campaign. This grant allowed time to begin the strategic planning phase of the project with the purpose of developing a service provider guide that would increase Minnesota’s capacity to serve sexually exploited youth. The guide is now part of a larger initiative to develop a system of coordinated care in the West Central Minnesota through Safe Harbor. 



What the Guide Is

In line with HGR’s mission and population served, this guide has a focus on working with juvenile girls, and for the purpose of focusing specifically on interventions for sexually exploited girls ages 12-17. However, clearly sexual exploitation goes beyond this specific focus and includes children under the age of 12, boys, gender non- conforming and transgendered youth. Minor victims of sex trafficking eventually turn 18 and should still be recognized and treated as victims as well. For this reason, we have included a list of resources for serving other populations impacted by sexual exploitation and sex trafficking in the resource section.

This resource guide is meant to assist service providers, task forces, system professionals, and communities to better understand many of the key issues survivors face, as well as best practices in providing safe and trauma- informed support services and programs that will best meet youth needs.

Purchase the Guide 

What it Isn’t

This guide is not intended as a detailed step-by-step “how to start a program” for youth who are survivors of exploitation and trafficking, but rather, it is intended as a resource with helpful information for agencies to consider based on current research and one residential program’s experience and expertise.

Nor is this guide intended to be a substitute for training and/or be the sole source of information and education about providing services for youth, or on sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. In order to meet the changing and ongoing needs of youth, particularly youth from diverse cultural communities, it is recommended that organizations that desire to take the next step of starting new programs, or enhancing existing programs to serve sexually exploited youth, seek training

and consultation from local, state and national experts on sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.