By Lynn Johnson, ACF Assistant Secretary for Children and Families
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. Today, on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, we celebrate the substantial national progress resulting from this foundational framework. We also renew our commitment to think big and be bold in our efforts to prevent trafficking before it occurs and to serve the individuals, families, and communities who are impacted.
Today, I would like to highlight some of the progress that the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has made to advance the anti-trafficking priorities outlined by the President in Executive Order 13903 on human trafficking and online child exploitation.
Improve methodologies of estimating the prevalence of human trafficking and establish the estimates of the prevalence of human trafficking in the United States.
Enhance capabilities to locate children who are missing, including those who have run away from foster care and those previously in Federal custody, and are vulnerable to human trafficking and child exploitation.
- In January, we released the 29th edition of the Child Maltreatment Report, which was the first edition to contain data on sex trafficking reported through the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) — 27 states reported 741 unique victims of sex trafficking in FY 2018. Beginning in October 2022, for the first time, the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) will collect data on sex trafficking from state and tribal Title IV-E agencies that work with children in foster care and children who have been adopted.
- In April, we collaborated with the Department of Justice to co-host a national listening session series on child trafficking during COVID-19, which included discussion of national, state, and tribal efforts to address online child exploitation.
- In May, we worked with the National Human Trafficking Hotline to increase collaboration with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to strengthen protocols so children can be located, protected, and served more efficiently.
Establish an internal working group to develop and incorporate practical strategies for State, local, and tribal governments, child welfare agencies, and faith-based and other community organizations to expand housing options for victims of human trafficking.
- We collaborated with the co-chairs of the Senior Policy Operating Group (SPOG) Victim Services Committee to conduct listening sessions with national stakeholders on housing for survivors of human trafficking.
- In May, we partnered with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to host a webinar, Sheltering In Place, Intimate Partner Violence, and the Healthcare Response. The webinar provided best practices and resources to health care providers and community partners to respond to domestic violence and human trafficking, support victims experiencing abuse, and promote resiliency in children during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- In July, we released an issue brief from the National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families on the Overlap of Human Trafficking and Runaway and Homeless Youth. The report notes data from the National Runaway Safeline that trading sex for something of value among runaway and homeless youth has gone up 100% between 2007 and 2017.
Partner with state, local, and tribal law enforcement entities to fund human trafficking and child exploitation, prevention programs for our Nation’s youth in schools.
- In February and March, we provided trauma-informed human trafficking training for educators and school-based administrators at the National Johnson‑O'Malley Association and at the Bureau of Indian Education, two networks addressing the education of Native youth.
- In May, we released a new funding opportunity announcement of $3.5 million for Human Trafficking Youth Prevention Education (HTYPE) Demonstration Program. The grant program funds local educational agencies (LEAs) to develop and implement programs to prevent human trafficking victimization through the provision of skills-based human trafficking training and education for school staff and students as specified in the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2018.
- In June, we collaborated with the Department of Education on a webinar focused on human trafficking and online safety. We are also consulting on the Department of Education’s revision of Human Trafficking in America’s Schools.
This year also marks the five-year anniversary of the ACF Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP), which has expanded services to survivors and strengthened primary prevention of human trafficking. Since its establishment, OTIP:
- Responded to the needs of 13,897 trafficking survivors — including, for the first time in HHS history, more than 3,000 domestic victims — through focused anti-trafficking grants programs.
- Doubled the number of Eligibility Letters issued to child victims of trafficking in the last four years, when compared to those issued in the 15 years prior to the establishment of OTIP.
- Decreased burden to the public by modernizing the case review process through a secure online case management system.
- Expanded capabilities of the National Human Trafficking Hotline by adding chat, text, and web services, which resulted in a 76% increase in communications from survivors of trafficking and generated tips regarding more than 102,000 potential victims of trafficking in the last four years.
- Enhanced local capacity to respond to human trafficking by training more than 17,000 individuals in more than 2,100 cities in the U.S. through SOAR to Health and Wellness training and by establishing the Human Trafficking Leadership Academy for survivors and allied service providers.
- Strengthened research and data collection by expanding human trafficking data collected by anti-trafficking, adoption and foster care, child abuse, runaway and homeless youth, and health care organizations.
For more information about ACF’s work to prevent and respond to human trafficking, visit the Office on Trafficking in Persons website.
New resources from OTIP:
We are proud of the efforts to prevent this horrific crime and to care for the victims of human trafficking. We expect to continue working hard to eradicate today’s modern day slavery.