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Testimony of Katherine Chon on Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000

Published: January 17, 2020

Katherine Chon

Director

Office on Trafficking in Persons

Administration for Children and Families

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Before the

Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission

United States House of Representatives

On

January 15, 2020

 

Chairman McGovern, Chairman Smith, and members of the Commission: Thank you for inviting me to testify on the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). I appreciate your and the Congress’s enduring, bipartisan support of the Federal Government’s efforts to combat and deter human trafficking.

I am Katherine Chon, Director of the Office on Trafficking in Persons at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), which is primarily responsible for implementing the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) anti-trafficking authorities under the TVPA, in coordination with other HHS divisions and Federal partners. I have served as senior advisor on human trafficking at HHS for nearly eight years and spent a decade prior to that founding a non-government organization working directly with survivors and building community capacity to effectively respond to human trafficking.

HHS seeks to prevent human trafficking and protect victims of its diverse forms of exploitation. As a member of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, HHS contributes to the whole-of-government approach to trafficking. Human trafficking is a violent crime, a grave human rights abuse, and a public health problem that disrupts the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. HHS addresses social determinants of health intersecting with human trafficking by integrating anti-trafficking responses across multiple systems serving populations at high risk to trafficking, including patients served by federally qualified health centers and individuals supported through child welfare, runaway and homeless youth, domestic violence victims, refugees, unaccompanied alien children, and Native American communities.

Trafficking Funding and Data

Between fiscal year (FY) 2001 and FY 2019, Congress appropriated $240 million for HHS to increase victim identification, provide services, and build local community capacity to prevent and respond to human trafficking (see Table 1). The majority of our funding has gone towards grants and contracts to increase victim identification and provide assistance to strengthen the health and well-being of survivors. As you will see reflected in the data tables provided with this statement, HHS anti-trafficking programs have generally experienced year-over-year increases in the number of individuals certified, survivors assisted, and cases identified.

From FY 2001 to FY 2019, HHS issued 6,294 certification letters to foreign national adult victims of human trafficking and 3,276 eligibility letters to foreign national minor victims of human trafficking in accordance with the TVPA (see Tables 2 and 3). States with recipients of HHS certification and eligibility letters included Massachusetts (11) and New Jersey (49) in FY 2019. Between FY 2006 to FY 2019, a national network of HHS grantees assisted more than 13,000 foreign national survivors of trafficking and qualified family members (see Table 4). In FY 2014, Congress appropriated funding for HHS to begin grant making programs to assist domestic victims of human trafficking, which led to the assistance of more than 3,114 survivors of domestic trafficking between FY 2015 and FY 2019 (see Table 5). HHS-funded grantees provide critical support services for local communities. For example, HHS anti-trafficking grantees assisted more than 90 survivors of trafficking in Massachusetts and more than 70 survivors in New Jersey in FY 2019.

Victim Identification

HHS complements its efforts to strengthen state and local community capacity to respond to human trafficking with a national human trafficking hotline to expand access points for emergency assistance, connection to services, and reports for human trafficking concerns. In FY 2004, HHS established a national human trafficking information and referral line, which currently operates as the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Between FY 2004 and FY 2019, the hotline received 553,424 signals (calls, texts, chats, emails, and online tip reports); identified more than 59,301 likely trafficking cases and 141,197 likely victims of trafficking; and made 120,042 service referrals and 18,873 case reports to law enforcement (see Tables 6a and 6b). The hotline has received calls from every state and many of the territories in the United States; for example in FY 2019, the hotline received 475 calls from Massachusetts and 624 calls from New Jersey.

In the first decade, the hotline operated primarily as a source of information for callers, as communities across the country were introduced to the reality of human trafficking happening in the United States. As public awareness increased, the hotline received increasing numbers of substantive calls and tips, including calls directly from survivors of human trafficking. For example, 155 signals to the hotline came from likely victims in FY 2008 compared to 10,362 signals from likely victims in FY 2019. Today, hotline data also enables HHS and our partners to identify common trends, intersections with industries and government systems, and gaps in victim support that can help inform policies and programs to more effectively respond to and prevent human trafficking.

Public Awareness

As this month marks National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, I want to highlight the importance of public awareness, outreach, and partnerships in contributing to the effectiveness and efficiency of HHS anti-trafficking programs. In the first ten years of implementing responsibilities under the TVPA, HHS funded grants to community organizations to increase public awareness on human trafficking and training to organizations likely to come across potential victims of human trafficking.

In FY 2004, HHS initiated the Rescue and Restore campaign to expand public awareness through community partnerships. In its first five years, the campaign generated 200 million media impressions nationally, with a focus on shifting the media’s coverage of human trafficking from solely an international problem to one that happens in the United States as well. The campaign provided reporter guidelines to maintain victim security and promote ethical communications between the media and trafficking survivors. The campaign recruited more than 1,000 local and 75 national partners and formed coalitions in 25 cities and states by 2008 to serve as focal points for local outreach and victim identification.[1] The campaign received more than 10 industry awards, including the prestigious Silver Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America.

In FY 2016, HHS updated the name of the Rescue and Restore campaign to the Look Beneath the Surface (LBS) campaign based on feedback from survivors of trafficking, changes in federal legislation expanding target populations for outreach, and emerging research on high-risk factors. The LBS campaign is complementary to other Federal public awareness efforts by targeting audiences specific to the HHS mission including professionals in health care, child welfare, runaway and homeless youth, refugees and unaccompanied alien minors, Native American, and other faith-based and community programs.

Between FY 2008 and FY 2019, the Rescue and Restore/LBS campaign identified 5,841 victims of human trafficking, screened 16,940 potential victims, and reached over 61 million people (see Table 7). While the LBS campaign will continue to raise awareness on the indicators of human trafficking, campaign strategies will increasingly involve prevention education messages. These messages will seek to disrupt the effectiveness of common trafficking recruitment schemes through increased knowledge, resiliency, and help-seeking behavior among high-risk populations and more trauma-informed responses from potential bystanders.

In FY 2008, HHS hosted a national symposium on health and human trafficking resulting in a number of recommendations from stakeholders, including increased training for health care providers. Emerging research also showed that 66 percent of survivors of human trafficking interacted with one or more health care providers while they were trafficked, reinforcing the need for increased training among health care providers[2]. In FY 2014, HHS began to pilot the “Stop, Observe, Ask, and Respond to Human Trafficking” (SOAR) training program informed by survivors and clinicians.

HHS currently provides SOAR Online for social workers, health, public health, and behavioral health professionals on how to identify, treat, and respond appropriately to individuals who are at risk of or who have experienced trafficking. These accredited on-demand trainings are available in English and Spanish and include modules on trauma-informed care and culturally and linguistically appropriate service standards. Last year, HHS developed additional modules specific for professionals working in education and Native community settings. As one indication of success, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has seen an increase in the trafficking-related signals from health care providers. The hotline received 265 signals from health care providers in FY 2013 prior to the piloting of the SOAR training. The number of signals from health care providers increased to 823 in FY 2017, 1,336 in FY 2018, and 1,520 in FY 2019.

By FY 2019, more than 9,600 health professionals in 45 states and 4 U.S. territories received SOAR training. Almost 94 percent of participants had “high” or “very high” confidence in their ability to identify and respond to human trafficking after receiving the SOAR training in FY 2019. More than 3,260 individuals took SOAR Online training in FY 2019. Last year, HHS further expanded access to SOAR Online from having the capacity to train 1,500 individuals per month to now more than 1.8 million health and human service professionals. By increasing access to the trainings, we saw a 251 percent month-over-month increase in completed trainings the first month.[3] On this note, I would like to thank the Congress for recognizing SOAR’s value by institutionalizing it in the SOAR to Health and Wellness Act of 2018.

State, Tribal, Local, and Private Sector Actions

I would also like to note that state and local leadership and private sector institutions have increasingly incorporated a public health response to human trafficking, especially in the last five years. More states are now including state departments of health and public health into their anti-trafficking task forces[4] and increasingly passing legislation to require training on human trafficking for health care providers. For example, New Jersey now requires all healthcare workers and volunteers who have contact with patients, regardless if the contact is clinical or non-clinical, to complete training in recognizing and intervening in cases of human trafficking. Similarly, public and private hospital networks[5], medical and nursing school programs[6], and health care professional associations[7] have increasingly incorporated human trafficking as part of their missions.

HHS has engaged in robust outreach to tribal and Native American communities[8] in order to raise awareness of human trafficking and missing and murdered indigenous women and girls to receive feedback to better inform our policies and resource development. These engagements included roundtable discussions in four HHS regions, as well as in the Pacific basin addressing human trafficking in Hawaii, Guam, and Saipan. HHS released a Tribal Youth Toolkit on human trafficking and will be releasing a funding opportunity announcement on addressing human trafficking in Native communities in 2020. In FY 2019, HHS supported a Human Trafficking Leadership Academy cohort of Native American survivor leaders and allied professionals examining how culture is a protective factor in preventing human trafficking among Native youth. HHS also continued to fund the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center which developed resources to address the intersections of human trafficking, domestic and dating violence.

Conclusion

Reflecting on the past twenty years and looking ahead to implementing the framework that the TVPA established, HHS has several foundational areas to build upon. HHS values putting people at the center of our mission. In the last ten years, HHS increased engagement with survivors of human trafficking through consulting with the victims and survivors on anti-trafficking efforts and providing leadership development opportunities. Members of the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, who are leaders with lived experience appointed by the President, provide valuable recommendations that HHS continues to incorporate, such as the Council’s recommendation on the realistic portrayals of diverse forms of human trafficking. Survivor-leaders are also an integral part of the National Advisory Committee on the Sex Trafficking of Children and Youth in the United States, which advises the HHS Secretary and the Attorney General on the nation’s response to child and youth sex trafficking. HHS also supports the professional development of survivors of trafficking through funded consultations from the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Center and the Human Trafficking Leadership Academy.

HHS also values the power of leveraging data. In 2014, HHS initiated the Human Trafficking Data Collection project to examine shared data definitions and standards, identify opportunities for data sharing and exchange, develop an interoperable data collection platform, open up data to partner within research communities, and better understand how human trafficking is impacting HHS-funded systems of care. Today, HHS collects uniform data across anti-trafficking grant programs, incorporates human trafficking data elements into multiple health and human service data systems (e.g. health diagnostic codes, child welfare, runaway and homeless youth), and provides data and resources to strengthen prevalence estimates of human trafficking in the United States.

In the coming years, HHS looks forward to further strengthening efforts to strategically prevent the diverse forms of human trafficking. ACF will soon release a National Human Trafficking Prevention Action Plan outlining a strategy and issuing a call for partnerships to strengthen primary prevention efforts across the country. Preventing human trafficking includes effective, age appropriate prevention education designed to build resiliency against common recruitment and grooming tactics, supported by trauma-informed response protocols within schools and other youth-serving settings.

Last year, ACF collaborated with the McCain Institute on roundtable discussions spotlighting successes and challenges of prevention education implemented by states and non-government organizations. We also released a SOAR training module for school-based professionals and have reached out to the Department of Education, Bureau of Indian Education, and Department of Defense to raise awareness about this new resource. This year, we will release additional information on prevention education programs and continue to consult with our federal partners in the implementation of the Frederick Douglas Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act.

Thank you for the opportunity to share information about HHS’s activities. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

 

TABLES

Table 1. HHS Anti-Trafficking in Persons Programs Budget, FY 2001 – FY 2019

Fiscal Year

President’s Budget Request

Congressional Appropriations

Foreign National Victim Assistance

Domestic Victim Assistance

2001

$5,000,000

$5,000,000

$5,000,000

$0

2002

$10,000,000

$10,000,000

$10,000,000

$0

2003

$10,000,000

$9,935,000

$9,935,000

$0

2004

$10,000,000

$9,909,000

$9,909,000

$0

2005

$10,000,000

$9,915,000

$9,915,000

$0

2006

$9,915,000

$9,809,000

$9,809,000

$0

2007

$14,816,000

$9,823,000

$9,823,000

$0

2008

$14,816,000

$9,814,000

$9,814,000

$0

2009

$9,814,000

$9,814,000

$9,814,000

$0

2010

$9,814,000

$9,814,000

$9,814,000

$0

2011

$9,814,000

$9,794,000

$9,794,000

$0

2012

$9,814,000

$9,775,000

$9,775,000

$0

2013

$9,775,000

$9,341,000

$9,341,000

$0

2014

$19,775,000

$13,755,000

$12,000,000

$1,755,000

2015

$22,000,000

$15,755,000

$13,000,000

$2,755,000

2016

$22,000,000

$18,755,000

$13,000,000

$6,755,000

2017

$22,000,000

$18,755,000

$13,000,000

$5,755,000

2018

$18,719,000

$23,755,000

$17,000,000

$6,755,000

2019

$18,755,000

$26,755,000

$19,000,000

$7,755,000

 

Table 2. HHS Issuance of Certification Letters, FY 2001 – FY 2019

   

Basis of Certification

Type of Trafficking

Fiscal Year

Total Recipients

Bona Fide T Visa Application

Continued Presence

T Visa

Sex & Labor

Labor

Sex

Unknown

2001

195

1

194

0

0

80

6

109

2002

77

1

76

0

0

26

19

32

2003

143

39

103

1

0

13

3

127

2004

143

31

109

3

2

24

5

112

2005

195

44

151

0

3

26

23

143

2006

208

35

173

0

35

31

39

103

2007

269

109

146

14

16

171

82

0

2008

286

112

172

2

12

223

49

2

2009

329

137

189

3

10

270

49

0

2010

450

201

242

7

44

352

53

1

2011

463

2

257

204

28

348

87

0

2012

367

0

146

221

27

247

93

0

2013

406

5

122

279

32

276

98

0

2014

528

2

144

382

40

388

100

0

2015

621

0

143

478

56

469

96

0

2016

443

0

94

349

41

324

78

0

2017

448

0

103

345

35

335

77

1

2018

412

0

77

335

33

283

90

6

2019

311

0

69

242

22

211

67

11

 

Table 3. HHS Issuance of Eligibility Letters, FY 2001 – FY 2019

   

Type of Trafficking

Fiscal Year

Total Recipients

Sex & Labor

Labor

Sex

Unknown

2001

4

0

0

2

2

2002

19

0

4

13

2

2003

6

0

2

1

3

2004

18

1

0

3

14

2005

32

6

3

4

19

2006

20

2

7

3

8

2007

32

2

19

11

0

2008

32

2

11

19

0

2009

50

3

28

19

0

2010

92

11

57

24

0

2011

100

10

57

33

0

2012

102

6

72

24

0

2013

114

3

79

32

0

2014

217

8

149

60

0

2015

239

7

184

48

0

2016

335

15

245

75

0

2017

506

34

367

105

0

2018

466

29

312

125

0

2019

892

27

614

251

0

 

Table 4. HHS Grant Programs Assisting Foreign National Victims of Human Trafficking, FY 2012 – FY 2019[9]

Fiscal Year

Service Sites

Victims Served

Participants[10] Served

Sex Trafficking

Labor Trafficking

Sex & Labor Trafficking

Unknown Trafficking

Adult Victims

Minor Victims

2012

152

599

763

124

432

41

2

578

21

2013

270

808

1,147

199

545

63

1

778

30

2014

290

931

1,256

198

666

67

0

891

40

2015

283

1,018

1,521

191

730

97

0

967

51

2016

233

929

1,322

159

671

99

0

865

64

2017

261

1,100

1,531

194

796

109

1

1,043

57

2018

269

1,280

1,612

277

870

130

3

1,175

105

2019

272

968

1,573

194

654

117

3

824

144

Table 5. HHS Grant Programs Assisting Domestic Victims of Human Trafficking, FY 2015 – FY 2019

Fiscal Year

Victims Served

Sex Trafficking

Labor Trafficking

Sex & Labor Trafficking

Unknown Trafficking

2015

163

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

2016

341

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

2017

636

432

14

8

182

2018

1,149

971

37

21

120

2019

825

714

19

18

74

 

Table 6a. National Human Trafficking Hotline[11] Signals, FY 2004 – FY 2019

Fiscal Year

Total Signals

Likely Trafficking Cases

Likely Victims

Signals from Likely Victims

Unique Service Referrals

Cases Reported to Law Enforcement

2004

1,600

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

2005

4,000

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

2006

2,670

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

2007

2,329

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

2008

4,463

n/a

2,078

155

412

123

2009

7,969

n/a

1,147

266

654

302

2010

12,135

407

1,084

429

912

491

2011

17,301

1,708

1,593

688

17,791

767

2012

23,048

3,205

4,802

1,129

13,367

1,275

2013

32,438

4,796

9,695

2,641

15,522

1,304

2014

39,134

5,166

9,229

2,602

16,746

1,230

2015

36,916

5,418

11,829

3,487

9,937

1,434

2016

54,823

7,405

16,407

4,608

8,711

2,120

2017

68,938

8,686

21,644

4,626

17,342

2,794

2018

116,940

10,658

34,753

7,136

9,365

3,434

2019

136,990

11,852

26,936[12]

10,362

9,283

3,599

Table 6b. National Human Trafficking Hotline Signals, FY 2008 – FY 2019

Fiscal Year

Likely Trafficking Cases

Sex Trafficking

Labor Trafficking

Sex & Labor Trafficking

Unknown Trafficking

Adults

Minors

2008

n/a

378

215

19

83

315

113

2009

n/a

379

167

22

229

316

197

2010

407

621

245

33

77

365

174

2011

1,708

1,105

336

22

89

491

266

2012

3,205

1,856

481

99

86

770

438

2013

4,796

1,332

283

14

173

1,145

659

2014

5,166

3,201

707

160

394

2,938

1,410

2015

5,418

3,998

756

169

495

3,420

1,686

2016

7,405

5,400

1,045

272

688

4,771

2,294

2017

8,686

6,233

1,330

336

787

5,469

2,742

2018

10,658

7,637

1,296

632

1,093

4,832

2,229

2019

11,852

8,275

1,287

704

1,586

4,880[13]

2,088

 

Table 7. Rescue & Restore/ Look Beneath the Surface Grant Programs, FY 2008 – FY 2019

Fiscal Year

Potential Victims Identified/ Screened

People Trained

Total Victims Identified

Sex Trafficking Victims

Labor Trafficking Victims

Sex & Labor Trafficking

Trafficking Type Unknown

Adult Victims

Minor Victims

Age Unknown

2008

167

13,154

60

12

45

3

0

56

1

3

2009

378

13,297

214

72

135

7

0

183

22

9

2010

707

23,982

505

292

173

32

8

386

104

15

2011

613

14,663

443

289

113

17

24

287

141

15

2012

1,055

28,244

634

430

185

12

7

389

219

26

2013

1,088

33,628

763

561

188

9

5

543

199

21

2014

1,374

34,047

569

367

172

26

4

402

145

22

2015

2,741

25,521

515

213

258

34

10

403

65

47

2016

3,730

28,883

543

191

288

35

29

514

23

6

2017

2,547

26,609

481

208

212

40

21

450

23

8

2018

867

17,269

559

359

152

42

6

489

64

6

2019

1,673

18,576

555

401

118

27

9

487

67

1

 

[1] Houston, Texas; Las Vegas, Nevada; New York, New York; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Newark, New Jersey; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Phoenix, Arizona; Portland, Oregon; St. Louis, Missouri; San Francisco, California; Sacramento, California; Louisville, Kentucky; Nashville, Tennessee; Columbus, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange Counties in California; and statewide in Colorado, Idaho, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, and North Carolina. (See more: https://www.justice.gov/archive/ag/annualreports/tr2008/agreporthu...)

[2] Chisolm-Straker, M., Baldwin, S., Gaïgbé-Togbé, B., Ndukwe, N., Johnson, P.N., & Richardson, L.D. (2016). Health Care and Human Trafficking: We are Seeing the Unseen. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 27(3), 1220-1233. doi:10.1353/hpu.2016.0131.

[3] In September, HHS had 410 individual course completions for SOAR Online (before expanding access); in October, we had 1,438 course completions.

[4] Examples include Minnesota, New York, Delaware, Florida, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, and Texas.

[5] Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA, Dignity Health in California, Huntington Hospital in New York, Catholic Health Initiatives in Colorado, and the University of North Carolina are just a few of the health systems that have piloted programs to provide comprehensive services for trafficking victims and survivors. In 2019, the American Hospital Association, seeing the connection between human trafficking and other forms of interpersonal violence and abuse, formed a partnership with HHS to incorporate human trafficking training into their Hospitals Against Violence Initiative.

[6] For example, the University of Louisville School of Medicine designed a simulation-based medical education curriculum to prepare students to recognize victims and respond to human trafficking. Courses and other education on human trafficking have also been implemented at Stanford University School of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Southern Illinois University, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, and at other educational institutions. The Ohio Board of Nursing encourages nurses and other health care providers to be informed, aware, and responsive to human trafficking.

[7] For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics; the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; the American Medical Association, the American Medical Women’s Association; the American Nurses Association; the American Psychological Association; the American College of Emergency Physician; the American Public Health Association; National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners; Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses; National Association of School Nurses; and others

[8] Including caucus of Native American State Legislators, National Council of Urban Indian Health, Tribal Law and Policy Institute, the American Indian center of Chicago, Bureau of Indian Education, and numerous tribal consultations.

[9] Prior to establishment of the grant in 2012, HSS funded assistance for pre-certified and certified victims of human trafficking and their qualified family members through a contract from April 2006 to October 2011 – 2,735 participants enrolled in the program during this time.

[10] Participants include victims enrolled in the program along with their qualified family members (e.g., spouses, children, etc.) who receive TVAP services.

[11] In previous years, the National Human Trafficking Hotline was referred to as the National Human Trafficking Resource Center and the Trafficking Information and Referral Line.

[12] Due to ongoing data cleaning by the grantee, data on number of likely victims identified in FY 2019 is subject to change.

[13] Due to ongoing data cleaning by the grantee, FY 2019 data on case demographics are subject to change.

 

Last Reviewed: January 17, 2020

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