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Human Trafficking Data Collection Project


The Human Trafficking Data Collection Project examines current data collection practices, data standards, and technologies used for human trafficking data collection for the purposes of understanding human trafficking victimization and service needs. The project has been informed by multiple phases of public engagement to gather requirements for an interoperable data collection platform that could address known challenges in collecting data on human trafficking: inconsistent screening; insufficient service coordination; differences in data standards and formats; and lack of resources to securely collect, analyze, and share data. The project is a partnership between the Office on Trafficking in Persons, Children’s Bureau, and the Office on Women’s Health (OWH).

Project Goals

  • Gain understanding of stakeholder opinions and their level of satisfaction with current human trafficking data collection practices and ideas for improving these practices
  • Establish standards and definitions for data collection on human trafficking
  • Use data to understand human trafficking victimization and survivor needs while protecting confidentiality, privacy, and security of information
  • Identify opportunities to align federal, state, local, and private sector engagement on human trafficking data collection
  • Enhance HHS ability to collect and share human trafficking data with federal and other partners
  • Improve the efficiency of reporting legislatively-mandated data
  • Analyze the need for the development of an interoperable human trafficking data collection platform, in which different systems can communicate and share relevant information

Project Phases

  • Phase 1: National Stakeholder Meeting (2014)

    ACF and OWH convened a national stakeholder meeting of federal partners, human trafficking subject matter experts, survivors, and allied field practitioners (e.g. domestic violence, runaway and homeless youth) to explore the possibility of a one-day point-in-time count of the number of trafficking survivors served through multiple systems of care. The methodology and implementation would be informed by lessons learned from the annual Domestic Violence Count, the Youth Count initiative on homeless youth, and other related public health oriented survey designs. Learn more about Phase 1.

  • Phase 2: HHS IDEA Lab Engagement (2015)

    The HHS IDEA (Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship and Action) Lab selected OTIP and OWH’s proposal to develop an online case management tool to generate service feedback and challenges in accessing care. The project team conducted over 52 interviews as part of the IDEA Lab’s process to integrate human-centered design principles in the development of the project. Based on the interview, the project team shifted goals that focused on community needs for coordinated data collection, list of common data elements, and pilot testing the requirements of an interoperable data collection platform. 

  • Phase 3: Development of Draft Data Elements (2016)

    The project convened two working groups to inform the development of the draft data elements by providing diverse perspectives on the challenges of collecting human trafficking data. The HHS Federal Advisory Panel consisted of HHS federal and regional staff with expertise in assessing and delivering services to vulnerable populations, including individuals who have experienced trafficking. The Technical Working Group was comprised of state and local government representatives and members of various private, non-profit organizations with expertise in responding to human trafficking.

  • Phase 4: Human Trafficking Data Collection Project Pilot (2017)

    The pilot phase of the Human Trafficking Data Collection project includes results from a national and voluntary survey on the satisfaction of current human trafficking data collection processes and on the possibility of creating an interoperable platform to collect human trafficking data. The online survey also captured information on models or best practices for collecting and sharing human trafficking data. 

    The pilot phase also includes results from semi-structured interviews in six states (Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Virginia) that received additional feedback on current human trafficking data collection processes, gathered comments on adopting shared data standards, and assessed understanding of interoperability principles. The project engaged six stakeholder organizations in each state, including public health departments, child welfare agencies, federally-qualified health centers, State Attorneys General, and non-government organizations with anti-trafficking programs (some of which are funded by HHS, some of which are not.)

  • Phase 5: Development of Data Collection Platform (2018+)

    Phases one through four of the project will inform the future development of a data collection platform.

Last Reviewed: September 9, 2019

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