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New program to help protect youth from sexual exploitation

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WINNIPEG - A new team based in downtown Winnipeg will work to protect youths from sexual exploitation, the province announced today.

StreetReach Winnipeg, described as a first in Canada, will share information among social agencies and law enforcement, and co-ordinate strategies to identify and safeguard victimized youth.

"We are in a constant race to keep at-risk youths out of the clutches of sexual predators and street gangs," Gord Mackintosh, family services and housing minister, said in a news release.

"StreetReach is building a team of up to 25 specially trained professionals and co-ordinating the work of 22 organizations who will give vulnerable youth a real chance to receive the care and safety that every person deserves."

Supported by $660,000 in new funding, StreetReach is a component of Tracia’s Trust, the province’s $2.4-million strategy to combat child sexual exploitation.

The number of social-agency beds for sexually exploited children and youth is to increase from 22 to 55 by December 2010.

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