Our featured interview by In City Magazine's LaToria Lightner.

Yanelin M Valdez Founder/CEO MN COVID-19 Resource Connect

Please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?

My name is Yanelin M Valdez and I’m the Founder/CEO of an organization called – MN COVID-19 Resource Connect (MNCRC) . I am a survivor of the foster care system, human trafficking and homelessness in Saint Paul, Minnesota. One of my goals and objectives for starting this organization was to create a safe space for black and brown, urban cities and communities throughout Minnesota who are continuously at the bottom of the totem pole in gaining or accessing truthful information and valuable resources that work. 

Yanelin, what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from others?

Everything I do is about creating change and showing it through my actions. I’m interested in continuing to learn and grow as an entrepreneur and focus on what I do best and my incremental progress. I have been through so much that I will never allow my past (or anyone) to dictate my future. I’m proud of the woman I am today.

What is “failure” and “success” for you?

Failure is when you totally give up on yourself , not willing to change and you’re not learning from anything or anyone when you are running into obstacles of failure. On the other hand, success can be reached through failure. Success for me is achieving goals that I set for myself and pushing through any obstacles that try to stop me from achieving.

We’d love to hear more about your work.

MN COVID-19 Resource Connect (MNCRC) collaborates with other organizations throughout Minnesota to continue strengthening our community to make sure no one is left of receiving essential items, family fun game packages, women beauty care bags, men grooming care bags and seniors care bags ( 2 times a month). Other services include transitional navigators, advocacy  Financial Literacy, Enterprenal/Business guidance and more.

What excites you right now

What excites me right now the most is when I feel like I’m learning something and becoming a better human being everyday.

Yeap, we are in a pandemic, BUT what’s the best thing that has happened to you this year?

Learning the true meaning of self-care.  

What ONE thing would you like for our readers to take away from this feature story, about you? 

Anyone can step out of obstacles that are not allowing you to progress and walk right into success.

How can our readers connect with you?

    Email Address: Yanelin@mncrc.com

    Website: www.mncrc.com

    Facebook: Yanelinmncrc

    Twitter: Yanelinmncrc

    IG: Yanelinmncrc

#MNCRC #Resources #YanelinValdez

To read the full article click here.

The two big issues that correlate, foster care and sex-trafficking.

The fact that the child-welfare system has a child sex-trafficking problem is old news thanks to the national spotlight put on prevelance research studies and federal crime statistics, like the FBI’s report report showing that up to 60% of child-sex trafficking survivors recovered in 2013 had been involved in the child welfare system at some point. That number is staggering and has rightfully raised alarm bells to mobilize systems-level changes to the child welfare system. ​Outreach, awareness, and training initiatives have been rolled out nationwide to educate law enforcement, healthcare professionals, and child-welfare employees about the vulnerabilities of foster care youth and the red flags to help them assess for child-sex trafficking.

While I am certainly happy about the progress we’ve made, thus far, attention on the issue of sex-trafficking among kids in foster care has been almost exclusively on two scenarios: 1) kids who are sold for sex by a trafficker either within or outside of the fostercare home and 2) kids who ran away from their foster care families and engaged in “survival sex” - that is, the trading of sex to meet their basic needs like food and shelter.

I’m here to say there’s another angle we are missing and thus a whole population of sex- trafficked kids who are falling through the cracks. I’m here to talk about the kids who engage in survival sex ​within their fostercare homes out of fear that their basic needs for things like food, shelter, and clothing will not be met. Like most victims of human trafficking, many kids in fostercare have experienced prior abuse of some kind and often at the hands of the adults who were supposed to be caring for them. These adverse

experiences teach kids in foster care that adults can not be trusted to fulfill their obligations of basic care by providing: shelter, food, warmth, clothing, access to a shower/bath and feminine hygiene products just to name a few. The fact that these children have already likely been denied some or all of these things at some point makes them highly vulnerable to future coercion by any adult, but especially those who are charged with their care. And like many victims in pimp controlled sex-trafficking situations, kids in fostercare are moved around frequently, increasing their vulnerability to abuse and heightening barriers to reaching out for help.

I’ve worked with countless kids who have experienced sex abuse and or sex trafficking in their fostercare homes and it doesn’t always involve a pimp and it doesn’t always involve an exchange of money, but instead involves the exchange of sex for something of commercial value. It looks like a foster parent telling a child that if they don’t engage in a sex act, they won’t get to eat. I’ve seen kids who were locked in cages as both a grooming process which instills fear and obiedience and as punishment for refusal to comply with the adult’s demand for sex. If a fostercare child has to engage in sexual activity in order to eat they are engaging in survival sex as it is outlined in the TVPA. We’ve been calling this child sex abuse. It’s time to start calling it for what it is: child sex-trafficking.

#MNCRC #FosterCare #SexTrafficking



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