PWCS Program Earns National Recognition

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Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)

The “Prince William County Schools Human Trafficking, Prevention, Identification and Referral” program, developed by Angella Alvernaz, a human trafficking prevention specialist, and Elizabeth Young, supervisor of school social workers, has received the 2019 National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Award for the South Region.

The award will be presented at a luncheon during the 2019 Forum on Criminal Justice to be held in Crystal City in September. The forum is hosted by the NCJA and the International Community Corrections Association (ICCA), and will showcase programs, research, and policies that will help justice practitioners, researchers and decision makers move the criminal justice system forward through policy, practice, and research.

Alvernaz said, “The PWCS Human Trafficking Prevention Program uses a comprehensive wraparound system to educate our students about human trafficking, identify students who are being groomed or trafficked, and provide support services for those students, which include mental health services, medical care, dental care, branding removal, in-school supports, positive community supports, and pro-social activities.”

The Office of Student Services has received grants since 2012 to fund the program, and a permanent human trafficking prevention specialist position was funded through the School Division budget beginning in 2018. “There have been many changes to the program since it began seven years ago. We have expanded the program to all high schools in the School Division. Although the program is managed through the Office of Student Services, it requires a collaborative approach with multiple departments and agencies,” said Alvernaz.

Young and Alvernaz will be joined by Director of Student Services Carolyn Custard, and two members of the trafficking team, Mary Ellen Smith and Anthony Clark, in September when they accept the award.

Developing new programs that ensure the safety of students in and beyond Prince William County Public Schools is #PositivelyPWCS!

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