CAST’s work is directly informed by the real experiences of the clients it serves. The survivor leadership programs, Survivor Advisory Caucus (launched in 2003) and National Survivor Network (launched in 2011), bring together a community of survivors of human trafficking for peer-to-peer mentorship and survivor-led advocacy. Their voices on policy and public awareness have led to the development of stronger protections for victims in both California and federal anti-trafficking laws. By connecting survivors across the country, CAST supports and encourages survivors to realize their own leadership qualities and to value their insight, not just as survivors, but as experts in the field.
The accomplishments of the members of the Caucus and NSN, both individually and collectively, over the past year are tremendous. In 2016, nine members were appointed by President Obama to the newly established U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. The 11-member council advises the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF) and offers survivor-centered policy recommendations to both the White House and U.S. Congress on federal efforts to combat and prevent human trafficking.
Members also participated in policy advocacy efforts at the federal, state and local levels, including: Congressional hearings on the long-term impact of criminalization of human trafficking survivors, state Senate hearings on behalf of CAST-sponsored criminal justice reform legislation and government oversight board meetings on lost income compensation. In addition, CAST's staff and survivor leaders were invited by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) to develop the "Survivor Professional Development Training Curriculum," which aims to strengthen the impact survivor advocates across the country can have in the anti-trafficking movement.
Equally impressive is the group's media advocacy. Members have shared their unique experiences, impressive accomplishments and remarkable expertise through opinion editorials for CNN, expert commentary on MSNBC and featured profiles by the BBC.