After receiving a number of these questions regularly, we've chosen to answer them long-form in order to explain what differentiates our program from others.
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In NY, cosmetology licensure is granted through the state. As a result, background checks are conducted by the state prior to the license being granted, and not during the application process when applying for jobs. Our students can go before a state board who will reach out to their sentencing judge prior to entering our program, to ensure whatever criminal record they may have will not be held against them upon completion of their instructed hours.
We are also able to take students as young as 16.5 years old, provided they have a GED. This is paramount, since roughly 28% of trafficking victims in North America are minors.1 We even have the ability to prevent trafficking, by taking at-risk girls of high school age and giving them an opportunity at a career.
Beyond that, cosmetology offers a trade that pays a living wage, with a wide variety of applications in addition to working behind a salon chair. Graduates would also be free to pursue a career in the sale of salon products, work in product development, or continue their training to become instructors themselves.
Why not start small/with just a few students?
Because licensure is granted through NYS by NYS-approved schools, many criteria must be met in the building and the program itself that are in compliance with the standards the state sets. As a result, the design is not easily scalable and would actually cost substantially more in the long run.
Why here in Rochester?
Many programs already exist in Rochester to rescue and rehabilitate human trafficking victims. This alone indicates a need for services supporting survivors. We seek to fill the gap that exists post-rehabilitation, as survivors seek to reintegrate into the community.
Additionally, we exist not solely to serve survivors in the Greater Rochester Area, but will be able to receive applicants from anywhere across the country. As our program is unique in providing a state-issued license, we have received interest from survivors outside NY. We will be able to offer a place within a safe community to anyone who has previously completed a rehabilitation program for human trafficking victims.
What are the building requirements you’re trying to meet, and why?
We have several criteria from NYS that must be met in order to be approved as a cosmetology school. In order to house 20 – 30 cosmetology students, as well as a cosmetology clinic, a minimum of 7,000 – 10,000 square feet is necessary. NYS also requires that the student salon be separated from the classroom space. There are additional state requirements regarding empty floor space around salon seats, bathrooms, and large amounts of parking, which make the space we’re searching for fairly specific. We are ideally looking for a single-story building, in order to keep handicap accessibility requirements budget-friendly.
For the purposes of our program, we’re looking to house the school in a safe neighborhood. It also needs to be on a bus line to accommodate those of our students who do not have cars.
Why buy instead of rent?
We are open to considering the right rental situation. However, because of the aforementioned state requirements and the permanent nature of the work that must be done to meet them, we believe it is in the best interest of the School to renovate owned space.
What’s the advantage of setting up a new cosmetology school over sending survivors to an existing program?
Miss Julie’s School of Beauty is creating a safe environment for survivors with severely traumatic pasts to receive their education in the midst of a supportive community. Unfortunately, even when trafficking victims escape their circumstances, there is a high re-entry rate to the sex industry. Hindrances to a successful exit are many, but some of the primary factors include “lack of employment available to those with few marketable job skills and a criminal record, lack of resources for basic needs…an unfinished education, and a scarcity of adequate services within the community to meet these complex needs.”2
Another more recent review of the relevant literature names “…having life plans, and career projects for the future…and of feeling that one possesses the skills to satisfy one’s own needs encourages the victims to complete the path of emancipation from exploitation.”3
Our school is necessary, not just to provide job skills, but to prevent our students from falling through the cracks at yet again. Our staff will receive training specific to working with human trafficking survivors. We will be able to offer post-graduation employment at our own facility, or other partnering salons that are safe work environments.
Additionally, we provide logistical flexibility that traditional programs cannot. Students may need to attend part time, or need the option to take a break from their education as part of their ongoing recovery process. While a traditional school would require a student to start from the beginning of the program upon return, we will be able to “hold” those hours already logged and get them back on track for graduation.
Hammond, G.C., McGlone, M. Entry, Progression, Exit, and Service Provision for Survivors of Sex Trafficking: Implications for Effective Interventions. 1, 157–168 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40609-014-0010-0
Ferrari, Chiara (2021). The Factors Involved in the Exit from Sex Trafficking: A Review, 22(5), 195-209. https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol22/iss5/13