April 2015Vol. 16, No. 3Associate Commissioner's Page
The following is the monthly message from JooYeun Chang, the Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau. Each message focuses on the current Children's Bureau Express (CBX) Spotlight theme and highlights the Bureau's work on the topic.
As I noted in my letter at the beginning of the 2013 Child Maltreatment Report (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/child-maltreatment-2013), we have seen great progress in the reduction of child abuse and neglect in recent years. From 2009 to 2013, there were 23,000 fewer victims of child maltreatment. As we kick off National Child Abuse Prevention Month, I'd like to draw attention to new efforts to prevent child maltreatment, specifically within the issue of human trafficking.
The U.S. Department of State's 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report (http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2014/?utm_source=NEW+RESOURCE:+Trafficking+in+Persons+R) noted that approximately 44,000 survivors of trafficking were identified around the world within the previous year. These victims are often from the most vulnerable populations, including children and youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning; youth who have run away from home or foster care; and children and youth involved with child welfare. The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (P.L. 113-183) was signed into law on September 29, 2014, and includes provisions with direct implications for child welfare workers and agencies. In addition to defining sex trafficking, the law also sets title IV-E requirements for identifying, reporting, and determining services to victims.
Among other requirements, the act requires title IV-E agencies to:
- Demonstrate, by September 29, 2015, that they have (1) consulted with other agencies having experience with at-risk youth and (2) developed policies and procedures to identify, document, and determine appropriate services for at-risk children and youth.
- Demonstrate that they are implementing these policies and procedures within 2 years of the law's enactment—by September 29, 2016.
- Report within 24 hours to law enforcement children or youth who the agency identifies as being sex trafficking victims. Implementation of this provision is required by September 29, 2016.
- Report, within 3 years of the law's enactment (September 29, 2017), annually to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the total number of children and youth described under the law's definition who are victims of sex trafficking. Within 4 years of the law's enactment (by September 29, 2018), HHS must report to Congress the number of children and youth reported by title IV-E agencies as victims of sex trafficking.
- Develop and implement (by September 29, 2015) protocols to locate children missing from foster care; determine the factors that lead to the child's being absent from foster care and, to the extent possible, address those factors in subsequent placements; determine the child's experiences while absent from care, including whether the child fell victim to sex trafficking; and report related information as required by HHS.
The Children's Bureau released an Information Memorandum (IM) providing information on the new law, including title IV-E plan changes, new case plan requirements and definitions, additions to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, modifications to the Family Connection grants, Chafee program, and reauthorization of the Adoption and Guardianship Incentive Program. The IM is available on our website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/im1403.pdf (337 KB).
The July/August 2013 issue of Children's Bureau Express spotlighted the intersection of human trafficking and child welfare and featured articles on a training and technical assistance center offering services to professionals who may encounter victims and a handbook for enhancing the child welfare response to human trafficking. The spotlight section is available at https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewSection&issueID=148&subsectionID=50.
The 2015 Prevention Resource Guide: Making Meaningful Connections provides a new tip sheet, "Human Trafficking: Protecting Our Youth." The tip sheet defines trafficking, outlines some signs and symptoms of trafficking, and offers tips to parents and communities on being aware of tactics used to recruit youth into trafficking and where to report suspected trafficking. The tip sheet is available at https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/Human%20Trafficking%20%20Protecting%20Our%20Youth.pdf (88 KB), and the entire Resource Guide is available on the website for Child Welfare Information Gateway at https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/preventionmonth/resource-guide/. For more information on the Bureau's prevention initiative, see the article "April Is National Child Abuse Prevention Month" in this issue.
As the methods of human traffickers continue to evolve, so must our efforts to protect children and youth. Our goal is that the Children's Bureau will continue to strengthen your capacity to respond to the issue of human trafficking and keep children and youth safe.