About
Nonprofit Tools
Contact
Help

The Butterfly Fund 2021

Stepping Stones Network

Project Description

We named our crowd fund The Butterfly Fund because the butterfly symbolizes transformation and joy. Its dance reflects the need for movement from where we are to our next phase of being. This sentiment reflects our intentions as we support trafficked women and their children to heal, grow and rebuild their lives. It also reflects the importance of Stepping Stones Network moving into our next phase of being. To do that, we need your help.

In December 2019, Stepping Stones Network opened our doors to the first long-term residential recovery program in the Midwest for sex trafficking survivors who have children. Within the first months, we supported the birth of a new baby and admitted several other families. In one case, we had the opportunity to reunite a mom with her child. In another, we assisted a newly pregnant mom to avoid a trafficker that was harming her and the baby. All of our first clients had a similar story; having transitioned out of foster care as a young adult without a support system, then ending up homeless, trafficked, and pregnant. And, they all love their children and want to be with them.

As we were just starting to get our legs, COVID hit. COVID shelter policies drove us to reduce staff to limit exposure. Four members of our staff sacrificed greatly, working 24 and 48-hour shifts to keep the home open and safe. While the pandemic presented its challenges, the generosity of staff, donors and grantors allowed SSN’s Residential Program to survive its pilot season, obtain a 3 year CARF accreditation, and undergo a pivotal program reboot to improve and expand services in 2021.

We need your help to sustain our accredited Residential program in 2021 and give our waitlist families the protection and long-term support they need to rehabilitate and transform their lives. Consistent funding throughout the year is critical to ensure our families and our staff the promised 12-18 month experience.

In addition, we will be opening a new off-site Day Program allowing us to serve non-residential clients. This Monday through Friday program will offer themed days led by credentialed Program Leaders and include Planning & Purpose, Holistic Health, Parenting, Relationships, and Recovery. And, of course, we will continue to offer our 24x7 Hotline and Advocacy Services.

Your contribution to The Butterfly Fund will offer the gift of transformation and joy to these young women and children.

Thank you for being a partner in this movement!

About our Residential Program…

Stepping Stones Network provides a holistic, structured residential programming for trafficked mothers and their pre-pubescent children, while also preventing these children from being exploited or sold. Our 12-18 month program, staffed 24x7, provides safety, community, beauty and basic needs. To help survivors achieve sustainable life change, we employ strength-based and trauma-informed approaches in the context of licensed therapeutic services, life and parenting skills, health coaching, education and vocational planning, and supportive relationship building. Child-care and therapeutic options will be provided for children during the day, while their mothers set goals, develop practical plans and skills, and establish social and professional networks to rebuild their lives. Residence is at confidential location in Lake County, IL.

Most residential recovery programs do not allow survivors to bring their children. We are only the second in the US to offer this option. Other programs are now reaching out to us for mentorship.

A few facts…

The United States is one of the top three nations of origin for human/sex trafficking victims (State Department 2019). In the Chicago area, 16,000-25,000 women and girls are sold for sex each year (2007 Cook County Commission on Women's Issues Report) with 75% of sexually trafficked victims aged 0 to 20 (Statista.com 2018). Prostituted women are commonly sexually abused as children and 91% of them tell no one about the abuse (Silbert, Mimi H. 1984). The typical victim is sold an average of 13 times per day and likely earns nothing (U. S. Department of State).

Predators pursue the most vulnerable children and the most desperate women, including single mothers. In most cases, these women are in their twenties and became vulnerable after spending most of their lives in the foster care system. Aging out of the system, they routinely become homeless, poverty stricken, and desperate.

According to those with outreach experience in the area, conservative estimates are that 50% of trafficked women in Chicagoland have at least one child, with some having as many as eight.
50% of these children will be sold in the sex trade as well (Willis, Brian from Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies 11, 2016). Both mom and child need rescue; yet the current long-term residential programs do not admit women with their children. Many moms would rather sell their bodies than be separated from their kids. Stepping Stones Network has stepped up to fill this gap in services, show it can be done, and inspire others to do the same.

About the Stepping Stones Network Residential Program

We provide holistic, structured residential programming for trafficked mothers and their prepubescent children, while also preventing these children from being exploited or sold. Our 12-18 month program, staffed 24x7, provides safety, community, beauty and basic needs. To help survivors achieve sustainable life change, we employ strength-based and trauma-informed approaches in the context of licensed therapeutic services, life and parenting skills, health coaching, education and vocational planning, and supportive relationship building. Child-care and therapeutic options are provided for children during the day, while their mothers set goals, develop practical plans and skills, and establish social and professional networks to rebuild their lives. Residence is at a confidential location in Lake County, IL.

Most residential recovery programs do not allow survivors to bring their children. We were the second in the US to offer this option and are inspiring other programs to do the same.

Our Mission

Our mission is to educate and engage the community to prevent domestic (US-based) commercial sexual exploitation and to provide comprehensive, restorative care to survivors. Our vision is to create an engaged and compassionate community where sexual exploitation is not tolerated, human rights and dignity are valued, and the lives of both victims and perpetrators are being restored through God-centered relationships.


This project is supporting

Human Rights

348 days left

$2,111 out of $100,000
Complete