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July/August 2013Vol. 14, No. 6Fighting Trafficking Through Collaboration

In April 2012, the National Center for Victims of Crime convened a roundtable of national, State, and local stakeholders to consider the need to incorporate a child welfare response into the fight against child trafficking and the need to provide legal representation to child victims. The organization produced a white paper outlining the roundtable's end result, 26 recommendations to improve cross-system collaboration to address the needs of child victims of human trafficking.

Supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the roundtable brought together leaders on human trafficking and child victimization, child welfare, law enforcement, prosecutors, researchers, and legal advocates who had worked on behalf of child victims of human trafficking. The recommendations span a range of topics across the disciplines represented at the meeting. Recommendations for policy, research, legislation, resources, and training are outlined in the white paper and include the following:

  • The Administration for Children and Families, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Department of Homeland Security should issue policy directives allowing child welfare administrators to certify a child for a U visa, which gives immigrant victims of crime temporary legal status in the United States and work eligibiliy.
  • The juvenile justice system should screen juveniles for trafficking during intake and routinely afterward.
  • Juvenile justice and child welfare systems should collaborate with mental health and medical providers to better identify and meet the needs of child victims of trafficking.
  • The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, the National Youth in Transition Database, and the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information Systems should include trafficking.
  • The National Incident-Based Reporting System should capture the number of youth under the age of 18 who are charged as prostitutes or identified as sexually exploited youth who may be victims of sex trafficking.
  • Congress should amend the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to include trafficking in State definitions.

The recommendations have been endorsed by the following organizations:

  • ASISTA Immigration Assistance
  • Center for the Human Rights of Children, Loyola University Chicago
  • Connecticut Department of Children and Families
  • National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse, National District Attorneys Association
  • Polaris Project

Bridging the Systems: Child Welfare, Trafficking, and Law Enforcement Working Together for Trafficked Children is available on the National Center for Victims of Crime website: (256 KB)