Office on Trafficking in Persons - Frequently Asked Questions

The HHS Administration for Children and Families Establishes the Office on Trafficking in Persons

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) serves a broad range of survivors of human trafficking: adults and children; foreign nationals, U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents; and survivors of labor and commercial sexual exploitation. These services have been provided through various offices, including the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the Children’s Bureau, and the Family and Youth Services Bureau

ACF is committed to ensuring that victims of human trafficking have access to the support they need to achieve health and well-being.  To better reach this goal, ACF established the Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP) within the Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary to build on cross-agency work and enable ACF to carry out coordinated, strategic, and effective anti-trafficking work.  The reorganization notice will be published in the Federal Register. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. What is the mission of the new office that will result from this reorganization?
  2. What are goals of the new office?
  3. How will this new office be organized?
  4. Why is ACF restructuring its anti-trafficking initiatives?
  5. How will this reorganization affect Anti-Trafficking in Persons Grants funded through the Office of Refugee Resettlement?
  6. How will this reorganization affect the Demonstration Grants for Domestic Victims of Severe Forms of Human Trafficking funded by the Family and Youth Services Bureau?
  7. How will this reorganization affect the Grants to Address Trafficking within the Child Welfare Population funded by the Children’s Bureau?
  8. What are the biggest changes relative to how ACF anti-trafficking initiatives were organized prior to June 10, 2015?
  9. What will stay the same through this reorganization?
  10. How will increased coordination and collaboration improve services to victims of human trafficking?
  11. Will this new office serve victims of all forms of human trafficking?
  12. Will this reorganization negatively impact services for foreign national victims of human trafficking?
  13. Will these changes affect the levels of funding for foreign national victim services?
  14. Will certification and eligibility letters for foreign national victims still be issued by the Office of Refugee Resettlement?
  15. How is this reorganization connected to the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States?
  16. Is this reorganization a response to recommendations in the Building Partnerships to Eradicate Modern-Day Slavery report from the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships?


1. What is the mission of the new office that will result from this reorganization?

The Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP) is responsible for the overall leadership of anti-trafficking programs and services under the purview of ACF, including but not limited to implementing provisions of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).  OTIP is led by a Director, with the required knowledge and expertise in advising the Assistant Secretary, ACF, in the development of anti-trafficking strategies, policies, and programs to prevent human trafficking, build health and human service capacity to respond to human trafficking, increase victim identification and access to services, and strengthen the long-term health and well-being outcomes of survivors of human trafficking. The Office certifies or provides letters of eligibility to foreign victims of severe forms of trafficking, in accordance with the TVPA and promotes public awareness on human trafficking. The Office identifies research priorities for ACF’s anti-trafficking work, and leads the preparation and presentation of related memorandums, reports, briefings, trainings, technical assistance, and analyses.  


2. What are goals of the new office?

Three of the priority near-term goals of the Office on Trafficking in Persons are to:

  • Establish a cohesive national human trafficking victim service delivery system that will serve victims of all forms of human trafficking, be guided by core standards of care, and include coverage for non-urban communities significantly impacted by human trafficking.  The national delivery system will better leverage existing services available for foreign national and domestic victims of human trafficking, better leverage public-private partnerships, and strengthen coordination with other federal and state government funding mechanisms for trafficking victim services. 
  • Develop a culture of data-informed anti-trafficking programming and policy-making, including the launch of a pilot national human trafficking victim service count, the incorporation of evaluation and standardized data collection in all anti-trafficking grant-making, and an increased number of quality reports and publications contributed to the anti-trafficking field.
  • Integrate anti-trafficking efforts into existing and new HHS prevention strategies, including creating targeted awareness and public health messaging to populations at highest risk for human trafficking and addressing the demand for human trafficking.  Efforts will include stakeholder engagement and the creation of online training for health and human service providers accessible to all HHS employees. 

3. How will this new office be organized?

The Office on Trafficking in Persons will sit in the Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary.  The Director of the Office will be Katherine Chon, who has led and coordinated ACF’s efforts to strengthen our response to human trafficking over the past two years as Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons.  She and her leadership team will be supported by staff who will work with our anti-trafficking grantees, contractors, Federal partners, and non-government stakeholders.


4. Why is ACF restructuring its anti-trafficking initiatives?

Human traffickers often proactively target the vulnerable and underserved whom our programs serve on a daily basis - individuals who live in poverty; disconnected youth; those who have experienced child abuse, domestic violence, and other forms of interpersonal violence; Native Americans and Alaskan Natives; and immigrants.  For example, the Office of Refugee Resettlement has been serving foreign national victims of human trafficking since Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) in 2000 and the Family and Youth Services Bureau has been serving victims of trafficking intersecting with runaway and homeless youth programs in the regular course of its work for decades. 

Over the last 15 years, Federal legislation has been expanding, recognizing the importance of addressing the diverse spectrum of human trafficking victimization.  The TVPA has been re-authorized four times, including protections for domestic victims.  Last year, Congress passed the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act to strengthen child welfare’s response to human trafficking.  Earlier this year, Congress passed the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act to further strengthen anti-trafficking work in child welfare, runaway and homeless youth programs, and health care systems. 

As ACF prepares to implement expanding protections for victims of all forms of trafficking, this reorganization will enable us to build on the foundation of our anti-trafficking programming and equip us with increased capacity to better coordinate and collaborate across our multiple systems of care.  We will continue our anti-trafficking programming to serve the unique needs of foreign national victims of human trafficking, while also benefiting victims of all forms of trafficking from increased knowledge sharing of promising practices and stronger multi-system anti-trafficking strategies. 

This organizational change will result in stronger coordination of services to both domestic and foreign survivors of trafficking.  Specifically, it will:

  • Establish a cohesive anti-trafficking strategy that will better leverage strengths of program and regional offices and public-private partnerships.
  • Improve data collection to support evidence-based programming and policy making, ensuring the health and well-being of survivors regardless of type of trafficking or citizenship status.
  • Elevate anti-human trafficking efforts to the Office of the Assistant Secretary where they can better work across ACF’s programs (unaccompanied children, runaway and homeless youth, domestic violence, child welfare, Native Americans, etc.) and coordinate with other HHS and Federal partners.


5. How will this reorganization affect Anti-Trafficking in Persons Grants funded through the Office of Refugee Resettlement?

There will be no changes to the structure of any of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Grants funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that was in effect prior to June 10, 2015.  There will be no changes to main staff points of contact for current grantees. ORR will continue to provide budget, grants, and contract support through FY 2015, including processing the posting and application review of the Trafficking Victim Assistance Program funding opportunity announcement projected for FY 2015.  In FY 2016, the program will align with the proposals in the President’s Budget, ORR will support the transition of these functions to OTIP where appropriate, and we will explore options for enhancements with our partners.  ORR and OTIP will continue to coordinate and collaborate on anti-trafficking initiatives.

6. How will this reorganization affect the Demonstration Grants for Domestic Victims of Severe Forms of Human Trafficking funded by the Family and Youth Services Bureau?

There will be no changes to the structure of any of the Demonstration Grants for Domestic Victims of Severe Forms of Human Trafficking funded by the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) that was in effect prior to June 10, 2015, including grant awards made in FY 2014.  The main FYSB staff point of contact for grantees will remain the same through the life of the grant awards made in FY 2014 and FY 2015. There will be no relocation of any FYSB staff to the Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP). 

FYSB will post, review applications, and select awardees for the Service Grants for Specialized Comprehensive Case Management for Domestic Victims of Human Trafficking funding opportunity announcement projected for FY 2015.  FYSB will oversee those grants for the full award length of FY 2015 awards, as the domestic trafficking grantee responsibilities gradually transition to OTIP starting in FY 2016.  FYSB will continue to maintain its own oversight for any grant or contract programs integrated within its runaway and homeless youth, domestic violence, and adolescent pregnancy prevention programs. FYSB and OTIP will continue to coordinate and collaborate on anti-trafficking initiatives.

7. How will this reorganization affect the Grants to Address Trafficking within the Child Welfare Population funded by the Children’s Bureau?

There will be no changes to the structure of any of the Grants to Address Trafficking within the Child Welfare Population funded by the Children’s Bureau (CB) since they are funded by CB discretionary funds.  There will be no relocation of any CB staff to the Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP).  CB and OTIP will continue to coordinate and collaborate on anti-trafficking initiatives.

8. What are the biggest changes relative to how ACF anti-trafficking initiatives were organized prior to June 10, 2015?

The reorganization reinforces the importance of a coordinated ACF-wide anti-trafficking response cutting across multiple human service systems.  The reorganization moves anti-trafficking responsibilities from the Office of Refugee Resettlement Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division to the Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary (IOAS).  This work includes the certification of foreign national victims, Trafficking Victim Assistance Program, Rescue and Restore Program, and the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.  The reorganization also moves the domestic trafficking grants program from the Family and Youth Services Bureau to IOAS. 

9. What will stay the same through this reorganization?

The Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary will continue to

  • Coordinate with ACF program and regional offices on developing anti-trafficking policies and training.
  • Coordinate with Federal partners and non-government stakeholders on implementing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, and Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.
  • Maintain the current funding and grant-making support to foreign national victims and domestic victims of trafficking.
  • Partner with ACF program offices and the HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation to develop and validate a child trafficking screening tool to be used in youth-serving settings.
  • Partner with ACF program and regional offices and the HHS Assistant Secretary for Health to expand the SOAR to Health and Wellness training on human trafficking and strengthen anti-trafficking research and data collection.

10. How will increased coordination and collaboration improve services to victims of human trafficking?

Enhanced collaboration will improve services to victims of all forms of trafficking in key areas, including:

  • Enhanced Case Management Support:  ACF will pilot a user-friendly online case management tool for anti-trafficking service providers this summer. The goals of the tool are to increase ease of access to information about the range of public benefits and services available to victims of human trafficking, decrease administrative burden of the case management and data collection process, and create a feedback mechanism for ACF to trouble-shoot challenges that victims have when they access care.
  • Cost-Efficient Outreach and Education: HHS will expand its pilot SOAR to Health and Wellness training for health and human service providers on human trafficking, incorporating recommendations made during the evaluation of the pilot and creating modules for those who provide services to specific populations impacted by human trafficking.
  • Coordinated National Hotline: In FY15, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center will be funded by ORR and FYSB.  In addition, the recently passed Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act authorizes HHS to institutionalize an anti-trafficking hotline.  A coordinated ACF structure that engages multiple HHS program offices will be better positioned to strengthen hotline services and minimize redundancies or resource inefficiencies.
  • Validated Screening Tool: ACF is currently working with HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) to create and validate a child trafficking screening tool to be used in youth-serving settings.  It will be tested in runaway and homeless youth and child welfare environments.  Enhanced ACF coordination will better enable the adaptation of this tool for use in other service settings, including programs working with unaccompanied minors.
  • Streamlined Data Collection:  ACF currently collects data from anti-trafficking grantees across ORR, FYSB, and CB programs.  Core data collection standards will be developed so that the data generated can provide insight into trends, gaps and other analysis to inform future programming and policymaking. Coordinated data collection will also enable ACF to efficiently implement new data requirements in the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 and the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015.

11. Will this new office serve victims of all forms of human trafficking?

The Office on Trafficking in Persons will serve victims of all forms of human trafficking, including adults and children; foreign nationals, U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents; and survivors of labor and commercial sexual exploitation

12. Will this reorganization negatively impact services for foreign national victims of human trafficking?

The reorganization will have no adverse impact on services to foreign victims of human trafficking. Foreign national victims of trafficking will benefit from increased coordination of anti-trafficking programs within the Administration for Children and Families. The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and the Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP) are committed to a seamless transition that does not disrupt services provided to foreign nationals. OTIP will work with staff to identify any specific areas of concern and mitigate any potential impact.  OTIP will also continue to work closely with ORR to identify strategic areas for anti-trafficking collaboration, including streamlining processes for certified foreign national victims to receive services to the same extent as refugees and strengthening anti-trafficking training and screening related to unaccompanied minors.

13. Will these changes affect the levels of funding for foreign national victim services?

The current funding mechanisms and levels will not change. The Administration for Children and Families is not making any changes to the FY15 spend plan or the FY16 President’s Budget request. Over the last few years, Congress has increased funding for services to foreign national victims. 

14. Will certification and eligibility letters for foreign national victims still be issued by the Office of Refugee Resettlement?

The reorganization places the responsibility for issuing certification letters to adult victims of human trafficking and eligibility and interim assistance letters to child victims of human trafficking within the Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP). OTIP will be working closely with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), and anti-trafficking staff and contractors moving from ORR to OTIP to minimize disruption in these functions; update information to State Refugee Coordinators, National Voluntary Agencies, Anti-Trafficking Coalitions and Task Forces, and other interested parties; and coordinate with Federal partners including the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security in accordance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.  

15. How is this reorganization connected to the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States?

The reorganization will enable ACF to more effectively implement its commitments in the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States, which requires coordination and collaboration with multiple HHS and Federal partners; state, Tribal, and local government; non-government organizations and the private sector. 

The reorganization also implements a commitment in the ACF 2015-2016 Strategic Plan:

The Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary will establish an office to oversee communication, collaboration, and coordination of anti-trafficking related initiatives within ACF and between ACF and other elements of the Department of Health and Human Services, other federal agencies, and non-government stakeholders. (Action Item 4.1.13)

16. Is this reorganization a response to recommendations in the Building Partnerships to Eradicate Modern-Day Slavery report from the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships?

The reorganization responds to recommendations from various anti-trafficking stakeholder groups over several years, including the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.  The Council’s “Building Partnerships to Eradicate Modern Day Slavery” report included the following recommendation:

There is perhaps no other domestic agency that has the reach and potential to impact domestic human trafficking more than the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Its extensive reach around the country through social service provision, child welfare programs, and basic health care access put it on the frontlines of identifying and serving victims of human trafficking… A full-fledged, stand-alone Office to Counter Trafficking in Persons at HHS would create the capacity to coordinate an agency-wide response across sectors inside and outside the agency.

Last Reviewed: January 21, 2017
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