Identifying and Supporting Child Welfare Victims of Human Trafficking

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Victims of human trafficking are often from the most vulnerable populations, including children involved in child welfare. In fact, a 2013 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ report suggests that from 50 to over 90 percent of all sex trafficking victims were involved at some point with the child welfare system. The heightened vulnerability this population faces makes it imperative for child welfare professionals to identify and support potential victims.

There were 5,544 reported cases of human trafficking in 2015, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC). Of these cases, 1,621 involved minors. NHTRC, which manages the National Human Trafficking Hotline, identified 75 percent of those as sex trafficking cases, 13 percent as labor trafficking, and 3 percent a hybrid of the two.
Child Welfare Information Gateway has launched two new publications in its Bulletins for Professionals series to help child welfare agencies and caseworkers respond to this heinous threat and to identify and support its victims:

Human Trafficking and Child Welfare: A Guide for Child Welfare Agencies explores how child welfare agencies can support victimized children and youth as well as those at risk for future victimization from human trafficking. It looks at federal legislation and initiatives, strategies that state and local agencies can implement to address potential trafficking—including examples of programs and policies—and steps they can take to support children who have already been victimized.

Human Trafficking and Child Welfare: A Guide for Caseworkers looks at how child welfare professionals can identify and support trafficked children and youth and prevent the most vulnerable youth from becoming future victims. The bulletin provides background information for caseworkers, specific strategies they can use in identifying and supporting victims, and tools and resources that will help them in this work.

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