PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Monday, October 26, 2015

ADMHS RISE Project Will Serve Child Victims of Sexual Exploitation

(Santa Barbara, CA – October
20, 2015) - The Santa Barbara County Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services (ADMHS) is developing a new program to serve the behavioral health needs of Santa Barbara County children at risk for, or victims of, commercial sexual exploitation.

Upon conclusion of staff recruitment and training, the Resiliency Interventions for Sexual Exploitation (RISE) Project will provide clinical, medical and peer support for sexually exploited children and their families throughout the county. The multidisciplinary team will apply an innovative, trauma-informed, strength-based approach consistent with the best practices in the field.

Lisa Conn, MFT, RISE Project Supervisor, notes that “we have identified 60 Santa Barbara County children who are victims of, are at risk for, commercial sexual exploitation, but we believe that the actual number is much higher.”

“The chronic psychological manipulation of children can result in devastating, long-term trauma requiring highly specialized behavioral health services,” explains Ms. Conn. “With approximately 9.5 full-time equivalent staff, the RISE team will provide the array of clinical, behavioral and peer supports and services needed for the care and recovery of exploited children.” The annual budget of the RISE Project is approximately $886,000.

At any given time, RISE will serve between 40 and 60 children, teens and their families. A RISE pilot team is expected to be in place by the end of this year, and full implementation is anticipated by Spring 2016.

Funded by the Innovation component of the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), the RISE Project has already promoted an unprecedented level of collaboration among ADMHS, the District Attorney, the Public Defender, Juvenile Probation, DSS Juvenile Courts, Corizon Health, Juvenile Hall, schools, law enforcement and community-based organizations.

At present, a process is being developed to provide specialized training in the recognition of commercial sexual exploitation of children and to link affected individuals to behavioral health services.


For more information, please contact Suzanne Grimmesey, ADMHS Chief Strategy Officer, 886-5403 or Lisa Conn, MFT, RISE Project Supervisor,

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