A policy-driven anti-human trafficking council focused on victim services and direct pathways to housing is essential to facilitating inter-agency collaboration. Governments at the city-, county-, or state-level and NGOs can use the Mayor’s Policy Council Toolkit to build their own from the ground up. Included documents show the evolution of the Mayor’s Policy Council from 2015 to 2020 and focuses on community-based councils and that go beyond our initial 4P configuration.
The Mayor’s Policy Council Toolkit is ideal for governments and NGOs seeking to grow their capacity through partnerships and collaboration. The Toolkit contains documents developed in 2015 by the City of Houston to establish its own 42-member multi-disciplinary task force to include healthcare providers and faith based organizations, known as the Houston Area Council on Human Trafficking (HAC-HT). Our work was previously aligned with the 4Ps outlined in the United Nations’ Palermo Protocol: Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, and Partnerships. Because the Mayor’s Office completed 93% of Phase One of the Strategic Plan and issued Phase Two by 2018, we needed new membership aligned with our new goals and overall municipal framework. We launched the next phase of HAC-HT in 2020 based on a working group structure that aligned with the strategies and tactics of the Strategic Plan leaving the 4P framework to regional law enforcement.
The Toolkit’s beginning contents are drawn from when the then-existing Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force was restructured into HAC-HT in 2015. These materials pre-date the appointment of the Special Advisor on Human Trafficking and Mayor Turner’s release of the city’s Strategic Plan. Subsequent documents include our Member Agreement, By-Laws, and a PowerPoint outlining our working group-driven policy council.
Included in the Task Force Toolkit are the following items:
- Timeline of Evolution of HAC-HT and Special Advisor Position
- First Phase of HAC-HT
- Proposal to Reorganize Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force into HAC-HT – Part of formal proposal to the Mayor in 2015 to rebrand the task force, strategicaly double membership, and align work of proposed council with the Palermo Protocol.
- Organizational Chart of HAC-HT – Based on Palermo Protocol’s 4Ps
- Formal Invitation to Join HAC-HT – Originally written on City of Houston letterhead and sent by the Mayor’s Office
- Member List of HAC-HT
- Explanation of Commitment expected of HAC-HT Members
- Second Phase of HAC-HT
- Member Agreement
- PPT on Realignment of HAC-HT with Strategic Plan
Guidelines for Responsible Use
Use the Mayor’s Policy Council Toolkit in a responsible fashion by following the below guidelines:
- We respectfully ask that you do not represent yourself as a City of Houston employee or member of the Houston Area Council on Human Trafficking when using the Toolkit’s information and resources.
- Consider how to best establish your task force. HAC-HT is an initiative of the Mayor’s Office, which frames its goals and projects. Determine what form and organization your task force should take on in light of your locality’s needs.
- Strike a balance between local needs and international standards. HAC-HT was previously reorganized in 2015 to align with the United Nations’ Palermo Protocol. Although the organization of your task force should be responsive to local need, realize also the legitimacy that comes through alignment with internationally recognized standards.
- Use the HAC-HT member list as a guide in forming your own task force, but understand the composition of task forces will vary. HAC-HT is a multi-disciplinary task force, and members represent direct service providers, prevention and advocacy groups, and private funders. Assess what the right composition of agencies is for your area, but keep in mind the benefit of having a multi-disciplinary task force whose primary focus is systemic change and policy efforts.
- Before sending invitations to potential members, find out if a law enforcement task force already operates in your region. Determine if it is federally-funded and if victim service providers have joined their efforts. If so, consider what focus your task force should have and how you can best add value to already existing efforts.
- Be strategic when inviting core and ancillary members. In the case of HAC-HT, individuals were originally invited to join based on their organization’s ability to effect change at scale. To have the biggest impact, you need reliable members who can make a lasting contribution.
- Establish your task force’s credibility. HAC-HT benefits from the legitimacy of the Houston Mayor’s Office. Determine whether there are any avenues in your area (or even nationally) for gaining official recognition, such as gaining the support of your Mayor and/or Governor.