Program Overview

The Improving Outcomes for Child and Youth Victims of Human Trafficking (Improving Outcomes) grant program, funded by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) since 2016, awards state or Tribal entities funds to develop statewide/tribal wide approaches to improve the identification of and coordinated response to child and youth victims of human trafficking within their states or territories.


Grantees have developed and implemented diverse jurisdiction-wide strategies to address child and youth trafficking through improved identification, service linkages, and law enforcement response. Although each grantee project is tailored to its state, local jurisdiction, and context, many states have employed cross-cutting approaches that will likely be useful for others to review, consider, learn from, and build upon in their own states and communities.

Why State-Based Approaches Matter

State and Tribal agencies are well positioned to identify systems-level barriers to victim identification and support across their jurisdictions. They understand the unique context and needs facing different regions or sub-populations within their jurisdictions, and they can tailor their anti-trafficking efforts to improve responses to child and youth victims of trafficking accordingly.


State and Tribal agencies can advance anti-trafficking efforts through varied approaches, such as developing policies, practices, and guidelines; carrying out resource or needs assessments; convening multidisciplinary teams, task forces, and steering committees; advancing training and outreach; developing and/or adopting and implementing victim screening and identification tools; and conducting research and evaluation. These activities can inform state and local policies; strengthen communication, collaboration, and coordination across youth-serving and other state agencies; increase stakeholder buy-in; propel readiness to change; and improve local awareness, knowledge, and understanding of child and youth trafficking identification and response.


State- and Tribal-based approaches can create sustainable, impactful change to improve the identification and response to child and youth trafficking victims.

What Is Improving Outcomes?

Established through the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act in fiscal year (FY) 2016, the Improving Outcomes program was designed to support state- and system-level coordination and collaboration to improve identification of and response to minors and youth who have experienced trafficking. Each year since 2016, OVC has released solicitations and has funded up to four new Improving Outcomes grantees[1] each year. Although most of OVC’s human trafficking grant funding is allocated for victim service provision, the Improving Outcomes program is uniquely focused on advancing state-level anti-trafficking approaches. It is also one of the few programs solely focused on child and youth victims of trafficking. Improving Outcomes grantees must be state agencies or federally recognized tribal jurisdictions. Given the emphasis on collaboration and coordination, grantees are expected to have multiple state and local partners.

The overall goal of the Improving Outcomes program is “to improve responses for child and youth victims of trafficking by integrating human trafficking policy and programming at the state or Tribal level and encouraging coordinated, multidisciplinary, and statewide approaches to serving trafficked youth.”[2] Each grantee is asked to first identify the most significant barriers in their state or Tribe to identifying and serving child and youth victims of trafficking, investigating and prosecuting child and youth trafficking cases, or both. Grantees then propose programs to systematically address these barriers through developing:

      • jurisdiction-wide strategies,
      • protocols and procedures for identification and service referral,
      • a unified training strategy to build capacity of professionals,
      • means to address and fill gaps in existing services and coordinated responses, and
      • data collection evaluation activities to assess their project.

[1] The Improving Outcomes program was designed as a cooperative agreement in FY 2016, 2017, and 2018. In FY 2019, OVC changed the funding to a grant program. For the purposes of this compendium, we use the term “grant” to describe any Improving Outcomes cooperative agreements or grants, and the term “grantee” to describe an entity funded to carry out an Improving Outcomes cooperative agreement or a grant.

[2] OVC FY 2023 Improving Outcomes for Child and Youth Victims of Human Trafficking solicitation. Available at