This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: The report did not “identify significant concerns regarding the Call to Freedom’s adherence to award special conditions related to training and duplication of funding.”
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — An audit from the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs says a local organization helping victims of human trafficking hasn’t documented performance or program activities related to three federal awards of $1.98 million.
In a 32-page report, the Office of Justice Programs says Sioux Falls-based Call to Freedom “could not demonstrate adequate progress towards achieving the awards’ stated goals and objectives. Specifically, the Call to Freedom lacked supporting documentation to demonstrate trainings that were claimed as accomplishments or the development of tools to assist victims.”
The report also says it found Call to Freedom “engaged in relationships with victims and a partner agency that potentially created the appearance of conflicts of interest and provided services to victims that were not outlined in the budget.” You can read the full report below.
The report says the project period of the awards of money was from October 2018 to April 2023. Through February 2022, Call to Freedom had used $1.24 million of the $1.98 million.
The report breaks down the three award funds in 2018 ($550,000), 2019 ($925,00) and 2020 ($500,000). It also says it did not “identify significant concerns regarding the Call to Freedom’s adherence to
award special conditions related to training and duplication of funding.”
Call to Freedom Executive Director Becky Rasmussen pointed out Call to Freedom started in 2016 and has learned a lot about the federal grant process.
“Call to Freedom is new to receiving federal funds as of 2018. The agency has grown quickly to meet the needs of survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation,” Rasmussen told KELOLAND News in an emailed statement. “We are grateful for the audit process and have worked closely with DOJ/OJP to develop systems that provide better evidence and tracking of our work. We will remain committed to providing the best services and responses to those we serve.”
On potential conflicts of interests, the report says Call to Freedom “was placing human trafficking victims receiving services through the DOJ awards at a for-profit subsidiary company to produce merchandise for sale nationwide.” The audit says Call to Freedom made $21,918 through that relationship and the profit could “affect the Call to Freedom’s objectivity in best serving each victim according to one’s particular needs.”
The report also says Call to Freedom was not supposed to use funds from the project for criminal or expungements matters.
“However, we found that the Call to Freedom assisted victims financially on criminal matters,” the report states.
Call to Freedom is a non-profit organization providing support to victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. At the end of March 2022, the organization told KELOLAND News it had served more than 70 new human trafficking survivors.