House unanimously passes Bass legislation to fight child link between sex trafficking and foster youth
WASHINGTON, DC—The House of Representatives today unanimously passed the “Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2014,” legislation authored by Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) that will help to connect child victims of trafficking to appropriate services and prevent further exploitation.
The legislation is the result of years of work by Rep. Bass and child welfare advocates at addressing the link between children in foster care and sex trafficking. In Los Angeles County, 59 percent of the 174 children arrested in 2010 on “prostitution” charges had contacts with the child welfare system, and 58 percent of 72 sexually trafficked girls in Los Angeles County’s STARS Court in 2012 were children in foster care. Under-age girls should never be arrested and charged with prostitutions when they are victims.
"Today the House of Representatives took a big and important step to protect children in the foster care system," said Rep. Bass. "This legislation will provide real training to those responsible for protecting foster children and will compile concrete data so that we can continue to fight against sex trafficking"
“Rights4Girls applauds the passage of the Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act and thanks Congresswoman Bass for her tireless efforts in bringing the vulnerability of these youth to light,” said Yasmin Vafa, Rights4Girls’ Director of Law and Policy. "There is an undeniable intersection between child welfare involvement and child trafficking. Today's legislation takes crucial steps to protect our most vulnerable children by improving our current policies to ensure that trafficked and exploited youth in our system are no longer invisible.”
H.R. 5081 would provide several tools to strengthen the child welfare system’s response to child sex trafficking by ensuring each state develops a child protection plan with:
Provisions and procedures to identify and assess all reports involving children known or suspected to be victims of trafficking;
Training plans for child protective service workers to appropriately respond to reports of child trafficking;
- Policies and procedures to connect child victims to public or private specialized services.
- Further, this bill would ensure that states submit an annual report on the number of children identified as victims of trafficking within the already existing National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Systems.
- Finally, the Department of Human Services will be required to submit a report to Congress outlining the prevalence and type of child trafficking nationwide as well as the current barriers to serving child victims comprehensively.
Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Representatives Tom Marino (R-PA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) are also original cosponsors of the bill.
The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration.
More information about Rights4Girls:
Based in Washington, D.C., Rights4Girls is a human rights organization focused on gender-based violence and its impact on vulnerable young women and girls in the United States.