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Cassandra Clifford
Executive Director and Founder of BTFF

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

“Act”-ing for Children’s Welfare

Rep. Karen Bass
As the popularity of human trafficking grows through supply and demand, governmental and non-governmental efforts to end it also grow. Through such efforts, a link has been found between the welfare system and human trafficking, particularly when it comes to children. Yet, there seems to be a lack of data, research and legislation on these incidents.

One new piece of legislation is on its way to providing a solution for this problem: the Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking Act of 2011, or H.R. 2730. Introduced to the House of representatives in 2011, this bill is sponsored by Representative Karen Bass of California, and has 21 co-sponsors.

Some of the goals that H.R. 2730 seeks to accomplish include:
  • Guidelines for training child welfare and court employees in "identifying, educating, and counseling children at risk...or who are human trafficking victims who may be in the care of the child welfare system."
  • Guidelines with recommendations on "how state child welfare agencies may prevent children from becoming victims of trafficking."
  • Recommendations on "[updating] licensing requirements...so that...residential facilities or safe havens serving children who are trafficking victims can qualify as childcare institutions."
  • Requiring state [Foster Care and Adoption Assistance] plans to make child welfare agencies classify children receiving assistance for trafficking, reasons for classification, information on each child, and immediate reporting to law enforcement the identity of missing or abducted children receiving assistance.
Non-profit organizations like Safe Horizon are doing what they can to increase the number of supporters. Safe Horizon, which provides support and services for victims of violence and abuse, is the largest victims' service agency in the U.S. Other supporters include Shared Hope International, ECPAT, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), and Courtney's House, a partner of the Bridge to Freedom Foundation (BTFF).

Where is the bill now? It has been referred to the Subcommitee on Human Resources. Afterward, it'll make its way to the Senate, then hopefully to the President where it will oficially become a bill!

What can you do? Find out who your representative is and call or write a letter to him or her encouraging them to support H.R. 2730. You can also sign the letter to support H.R. 2730 via Safe Horizon.

By Whitney Joseph

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