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FY 2015 HHS Excerpts in the Attorney General's Annual Report U.S. Government Activities to Combat Trafficking

HHS contributes to the Department of Justice Attorney General’s Annual Reports to Congress and Assessment of U.S. Government Activities to Combat Trafficking in Persons. This report provides recommendations to federal agencies and updates on information from each agency on anti-trafficking efforts.  

HHS excerpts from the FY 2015 Report are available below.  Read the full FY 2015 Attorney General's Report.

Table of Contents

Benefits and Services Given Domestically to Trafficking Victims

Training, Outreach, and Public Awareness Efforts


Benefits and Services Given Domestically to Trafficking Victims


Capacity and Leadership on Trafficking in Persons


The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) serves as the lead HHS agency to combat human trafficking and modern forms of slavery by administering anti-trafficking programs through grants and contracts and collaborating with federal, state, tribal, and local governmental and nongovernmental organizations. 

On June 10, 2015, ACF established a new Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP).  The reorganization moved the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division (ATIP) in the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and the domestic trafficking grants program in the Family Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) to the Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary, thus putting the foreign national and domestic anti-trafficking activities into one office, OTIP.

In collaboration with other ACF program and regional offices, OTIP seeks to meet three priority goals:

  • Establish a cohesive national human trafficking victim service delivery system that serves victims of all forms of trafficking by leveraging existing service systems, public-private partnerships, and federal and local coordination.
  • Develop a culture of data-informed anti-trafficking programming and policy-making by standardizing data collection, targeting evaluation, and publishing quality reports.
  • Integrate anti-trafficking efforts into HHS prevention strategies through survivor-informed public awareness messaging and addressing demand for human trafficking.

In addition to the benefits resulting from the priority goals mentioned above, the new OTIP will work to increase coordination and collaboration to inform anti-trafficking activities, policies, and guidance across health and human service systems, including refugee resettlement, runaway and homeless youth, domestic violence, child welfare, and community health and public health partners.

In FY 2015, ACF continued to operate the Anti-Trafficking Initiatives Working Group across multiple human service programs, including the Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary; Children’s Bureau; FYSB; Administration for Native Americans (ANA); ORR; Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE); Office of Regional Operations; Office of Communications; Office of Community Services; Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness and Response; and anti-trafficking liaisons in each of ACF’s ten regional offices. 

In FY 2015, HHS continued to convene a department-wide working group on human trafficking to strengthen the bridge between health and human service responses to human trafficking.  The working group comprised representatives of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.  The Administration for Community Living joined the working group in FY 2015.  One of the major initiatives of the HHS working group was to pilot targeted training for health care providers on the scope, indicators, and trauma-informed practices related to serving victims of human trafficking.

Benefits and Services for Foreign National Victims of Human Trafficking


The TVPA designated HHS as the agency responsible for helping foreign trafficking victims become eligible to receive benefits and services so they can rebuild their lives safely in the United States.  ACF performs the following service-related activities under the TVPA: (1) issues certifications to non-U.S. citizen, non-Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) adult human trafficking victims who are willing to assist in the investigation and prosecution of a trafficking crime and have received Continued Presence or made a bona fide application for T nonimmigrant status that was not denied; (2) issues Eligibility Letters to non-U.S. citizen, non-LPR child human trafficking victims (i.e., minors) (see below); (3) provides services and case management to foreign victims of trafficking through a network of service providers across the United States; and (4) builds capacity nationally through training and technical assistance and operation of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) (see Part IV.A.5 below).   

Certifications and Letters of Eligibility
 

Section 107(b)(1)(E) of the TVPA, as amended, states that the Secretary of HHS, after consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, may certify an adult victim of a severe form of trafficking who: (1) is willing to assist in every reasonable way in the investigation and prosecution of severe forms of human trafficking, or who is unable to cooperate due to physical or psychological trauma; and (2) has made a bona fide application for T nonimmigrant status that has not been denied; or is a person whose continued presence in the United States the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security are ensuring to facilitate prosecutions.  22 U.S.C. 7105(b)(1)(E).  Certification allows adult victims to be eligible for Federal and State benefits and services to the same extent as a refugee, such as cash assistance, medical care, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, and housing.  HHS notifies an adult victim of trafficking of his or her eligibility for benefits and services by means of a “Certification Letter.”  Certification does not grant any immigration status.  Certification letters do not expire, but some benefits are time-limited.  Family members of trafficking victims who have their own derivative T visas are immediately eligible for benefits and services to the same extent as refugees.  They do not need HHS certification. 

Certification should not be equated with victim identification.  HHS grantees work with trafficking victims at every stage of the victim identification process, from initial contact with suspected victims who might not be ready to work with law enforcement or fully relate their experiences to service providers, to helping certified victims rebuild their lives with the help of federally funded benefits.  Factors such as language, safety concerns, and psychological and physical trauma present significant barriers to victims coming forward.  Once they do, these individuals rely on highly trained social service providers, attorneys, and law enforcement agents to help them navigate through the certification process.  Nevertheless, other foreign-born victims may elect to return to their country of origin without seeking any benefits in the United States.  HHS provides victims identified by its nongovernmental partners with an array of services that will assist them in the pursuit of certification, should they choose to cooperate with law enforcement and receive the benefits available to them under the TVPA.

Foreign victims of a severe form of trafficking under 18 years of age do not need to be certified to receive benefits and services.  Children are not required to cooperate with law enforcement or to have been granted Continued Presence or a T nonimmigrant visa by DHS to receive assistance.  Instead, HHS will make an independent determination on whether the minor is a victim of a severe form of trafficking and will issue an Interim Assistance Letter and/or an Eligibility Letter for a minor to be eligible for benefits and services to the same extent as a refugee. The TVPA requires any Federal, State, or local official to notify HHS within 24 hours after discovering a foreign child who may be a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons to facilitate the provision of assistance, as described below (22 U.S.C. 7105).

HHS issues Interim Assistance Letters to foreign child who may have been subjected to a severe form of trafficking in persons, providing potential victims with an up-to 90-day period of eligibility which may be extended for an additional 30 days.  During that time, HHS consults with DOJ and DHS, and nongovernmental organizations with expertise in human trafficking before determining the child’s eligibility status.  HHS issues Eligibility Letters to foreign child trafficking victims upon receiving credible information that the child was subjected to a severe form of human trafficking.  Eligibility Letters do not expire, but some benefits are time-limited.

U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who are victims of a severe form of human trafficking do not need to obtain a Certification or Eligibility Letter from HHS in order to access specialized services for victims of trafficking or any other Federal benefits and protections to which they are entitled. 

On March 28, 2001, the HHS Secretary delegated the authority to conduct human trafficking victim certification activities to the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, who in turn re-delegated this authority to the Director of ORR.  On March 23, 2009, the HHS Secretary delegated the authority to provide interim assistance to potential child trafficking victims to the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, who further delegated this authority to the Director of ORR in April 2009.  These authorities were transferred to OTIP when it was established in June 2015.

In FY 2015, ACF issued 623 Certification Letters to adults and 240 Eligibility Letters to children, for a total of 863 letters issued.

Fiscal year number of eligibility letters issued to children number of certification letters issued to adults total letters issued
2001 4 194 198
2002 18 81 99
2003 6 145 151
2004 16 147 163
2005 34 197 231
2006 20 214 234
2007 33 270 303
2008 31 286 317
2009 50 330 380
2010 92 449 541
2011 101 463 564
2012 103 366 469
2013 114 406 520
2014 219 530 749
2015 240 623 863
TOTAL 1,081 4,701 5,782


Of the adult victims who received Certification Letters in FY 2015, 67 percent were female (compared to 69 percent in FY 2014) and 33 percent were male.  Seventy-six percent of all victims certified in FY 2015 were victims of labor trafficking, approximately 15 percent were victims of sex trafficking, and nine percent were victims of both labor and sex trafficking.  Females comprised 58 percent of labor trafficking victims, 94 percent of sex trafficking victims, and 91 percent of victims of both labor and sex trafficking.

Thirty-five percent of the child victims who received Eligibility Letters in FY 2015 were female (compared with 40 percent in FY 2014) and 65 percent were male.  Over 78 percent of child victims who received Eligibility Letters were labor trafficking victims (up from 66 percent in 2014), 19 percent were sex trafficking victims (compared with 31 percent in FY 2014), and three percent were victims of both labor and sex trafficking, which is the same percentage as in FY 2014.

In FY 2015, Certification and Eligibility letters were provided to victims or their representatives in 37 states and the District of Columbia.  Certified victims came from 61 countries in the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Top six countries of origin of adult victims who received Certification Letters in FY 2015
country of origin number of adult victims who received certification letters percentage of total
Philippines 232 37%
Mexico 118 19%
Honduras 43 7%
Guatemala 28 4%
El Salvador 25 4%
South Korea 24 4%
Top six countries of origin of child victims who received Eligibility Letters in FY 2015
country of origin number of child victims who received eligibility letters percentage of total
Mexico 63 26%
Guatemala 59 25%
El Salvador 55 23%
Honduras 51 21%


Case Management Grantees


ACF has used both contracts and grants to create a network of service organizations available to assist foreign victims of human trafficking.  In FY 2015, ACF continued grants and awarded new grants to organizations to provide comprehensive case management and support services to foreign adult and child victims of human trafficking, their dependent foreign children, and certain family members.  In FY 2015, ACF continued National Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program grants to three organizations to provide per capita services in specific ACF Regions: Heartland Human Care Services (HHCS) (ACF Regions 1, 2, and 5), U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) (ACF Regions 3, 6–10), and Tapestri, Inc. (ACF Region 4).  Grantees provided comprehensive case management services to eligible individuals through a network of sub-recipients throughout the country and in U.S. territories.  During FY 2015, the three grantees sub-awarded funds to 149 agencies with the capacity to serve in 286 locations (service sites).  Ninety sub-recipients provided services in 86 cities in 39 states.  Two of the grantees provided case management services directly to clients.

During FY 2015, a total of 1,726 individual clients received case management services through all three grants, an increase of 52 percent from those served by the grantees in the previous fiscal year.  (This number includes 11 clients who were served by two case management grantees because the clients transferred from one grantee to another grantee.) This number included 477 clients who received services before certification (pre-certified), 525 clients who received services after certification, and 525 family members (spouse, children, or other dependents) who received services.  (Included in the overall number are 199 clients who received services both before and after certification.)  During FY 2015, 83 percent of all clients served by all grantees were adults and 17 percent were children, while 58 percent of the clients were female and 42 percent were male.

HHCS, USCRI, and Tapestri also provided training and technical assistance to sub-award recipients on service provision, case management, trauma-informed care, program management, and immigration relief and protection available for victims of trafficking.  They also provided outreach and additional training to other entities and organizations on human trafficking, HHS certification, and victim services.  During FY 2015, the grantees provided training to 1,734 participants and technical assistance on 4,427 occasions to individuals in nearly all the states in their regions.  They also provided training or technical assistance to individuals in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

On September 30, 2015, ACF awarded new three-year grants under the Trafficking Victim Assistance Program (TVAP), previously named the National Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program, to three organizations to provide full coverage for per capita comprehensive case management services in specific ACF Regions beginning in FY 2016: USCRI (ACF Regions 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10), U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) (ACF Regions 3 and 6), and Tapestri, Inc. (ACF Region 4).  Each of the new TVAP grantees can subcontract with service providers outside of the ACF Region(s) in which it has responsibility to provide full coverage.  For example, USCCB expressed its plan to have subcontracts with certain service providers in Regions 1, 2, 4, 5, and 9.


Foreign Child Trafficking Victims


HHS Service Provision


The TVPRA 2008 made several changes and enhancements to protection and safety assessments for unaccompanied alien children (UAC) in the United States at the time of apprehension as well as during temporary placement and repatriation.  UAC is the term used and defined in Section 462 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, Pub. L. No. 107-296 (6 U.S.C. § 279(g)(2)), which created the Unaccompanied Children’s program at the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).  A UAC is a child who has no lawful immigration status in the United States; has not attained 18 years of age; and with respect to whom: 1) there is no parent or legal guardian in the United States; or 2) no parent or legal guardian in the United States is available to provide care and physical custody.  ORR uses the term unaccompanied child instead of the term UAC.  The TVPRA 2008 also gave the HHS Secretary new authority to provide interim assistance to non-U.S. citizen, non-LPR children (under age 18) who may have been subjected to a severe form of human trafficking.  

Under section 107(b)(1)(G) of the TVPA, as amended (22 U.S.C. 7105(b)(1)(G)), the HHS Secretary has “exclusive authority” to determine whether a child is eligible, on an interim basis, for assistance available under federal law to foreign child victims of trafficking.  This provision authorizes the HHS Secretary to make a foreign child in the United States eligible for interim assistance (i.e., the same benefits available to refugee children) when there is credible information that the child may have been subjected to a severe form of human trafficking.  Under this provision, HHS provides notification to DOJ and DHS of the interim assistance determination.  Interim assistance could last up to 120 days.  During this interim period, the HHS Secretary, after consultation with the Attorney General, the DHS Secretary, and NGOs with expertise on victims of trafficking, is required to determine eligibility for long-term assistance for child victims of trafficking.  The TVPA requires any Federal, State, or local official to notify HHS within 24 hours after discovering a foreign child who may be a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons to facilitate the provision of assistance (22 U.S.C. 7105).

Unaccompanied children who are victims of trafficking may be referred to HHS’ Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) program, which is administered by 15 states and provides services that are in parity with a State’s Title IV-B and Title IV-E programs.  The URM program is the ORR-funded foster care services program available pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 522(d) that establishes legal responsibility, under State law, to ensure that unaccompanied minor refugees and other eligible children (such as children granted asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, T or U status) receive the full range of assistance, care, and services that are available to all foster children in the State.

The URM program offers a variety of care levels to meet children’s individual needs: licensed foster care homes, therapeutic foster care homes, semi-independent living programs, and residential treatment centers.  Other services provided include medical care, independent living skills training, educational support, English language training, career and college counseling and training, mental health services, access to legal services for immigration status adjustment assistance, recreational opportunities, support for social integration, and activities that support cultural and religious preservation. The URM program served 124 minor victims of trafficking in FY 2015, including 41 children who were identified and placed by ORR into URM during the same fiscal year.

In FY 2015, ORR/Division of Children’s Services (DCS) continued to provide services to unaccompanied children through its case coordination services contract. Case coordination between 2014 and 2015 was expanded to increase the number of social workers from 67 to 82. These social workers continued to provide best interest recommendations and services across the United States by interviewing unaccompanied children in ORR care and providing independent, child welfare-based recommendations to inform safe release decisions.  Case coordinators interviewed children and their sponsors to ensure that children were protected from traffickers and were timely reunified with family members and sponsors, according to the best interests of the child.

ORR/DCS care provider programs continued to receive ongoing training and technical assistance on screening children for human trafficking indicators.  ORR/DCS provided numerous trainings through onsite presentation for newly approved care providers as well as webinar trainings to the existing national network of care providers. These trainings focused on assessing unaccompanied children individual service plans to ensure that proper screening for trafficking is clearly documented in children’s case records.  Additionally, programs received revised operating procedures with improved assessment tools to include a document that more clearly defined trafficking with a list of indicators designed to assist in appropriately identifying victims of trafficking.

HHS Child Protection Team

Child protection specialists and senior reviewers facilitate the issuance of all Interim Assistance and Eligibility Letters and provide case coordination for identified, foreign child-trafficking victims.  The specialists provide guidance on special considerations for human trafficking victims, including interview techniques, safety planning, and URM foster care referrals when appropriate.  These specialists provide training and technical assistance to ORR DCS staff and shelter providers, community-based programs, child welfare agencies, and federal and local law enforcement.

Child protection specialists regularly provided training and technical assistance in FY 2015 to ORR/DCS shelter staff through emails, case staffings, and conference calls. These specialists provided in-person trainings to unaccompanied children care facility staff around the United States, including in Phoenix, Arizona; Seattle, Washington; Miami, Florida; and Los Fresnos, Texas.

During FY 2015, child protection specialists facilitated trainings with advocates, attorneys, and service providers in various cities throughout the United States.  The trainings covered the federal definition of human trafficking, overcoming barriers to identifying child victims, accessing benefits and services for victims, and providing specialized care and safety planning for foreign trafficked children.  In addition, the specialists provided specialized victim identification and victim care technical assistance to multidisciplinary teams serving child trafficking victims identified in the community (i.e., child victims not in federal custody).

HHS continued its cooperation with DHS to enable prompt identification of and assistance to potential child trafficking victims.  In FY 2015, the HHS child protection specialists conducted a webinar training for ICE Victim Assistance Specialists on HHS anti-trafficking programs, child trafficking reporting requirements, and assistance available to foreign child victims of trafficking. Child protection specialists also provided technical assistance to federal victim assistance coordinators and agents on a case-by-case basis when they encountered potential foreign national minor human trafficking victims in their localities.

Benefits and Services for U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Resident Victims of Human Trafficking


The TVPA designated HHS, along with DOJ and in consultation with DOL, to establish specialized programs and use existing programs to assist U.S. citizens and LPR who are victims of severe forms of trafficking (22 § U.S.C. 7105(f)).  In FY 2014, funds were appropriated for the first time for HHS to establish specialized programs for U.S. citizen and LPR victims.  In FY 2015, ACF continued to strengthen integration and coordination of anti-trafficking activities with existing programs and services that may intersect with victims of human trafficking, including the child welfare system, runaway and homeless youth programs, family violence prevention services, and the ANA.

Demonstration Grants for Domestic Victims of Severe Forms of Human Trafficking

The FYSB plays a strategic role in the ACF’s efforts to enhance the work of victim service providers though an emphasis on strengthened partnerships among programs within a community.  In FY 2015, FYSB awarded three cooperative agreements for a 24-month project period.  These projects are funded through the Demonstration Grants for Domestic Victims of Severe Forms of Human Trafficking. 

The purpose of the demonstration grant program is to develop, expand, and strengthen coordinated case management and comprehensive direct victim assistance for domestic victims of severe forms of human trafficking in the United States.  This funding creates an opportunity to increase the availability of coordinated case management services and comprehensive victim assistance to domestic trafficking survivors, as well as to decrease vulnerability to sex and labor trafficking among high-risk populations.  Through this program, ACF will support grantees to assess and build capacity to better identify and serve domestic victims of severe forms of human trafficking; foster collaborations and partnerships to enhance community response to human trafficking; promote effective, culturally appropriate, trauma-informed, and victim-centered services to ensure and improve the short and long-term health, safety, healing, and overall well-being of victims of severe forms of trafficking; develop networks to expand access to services; and identify services needs for domestic victims of severe forms of human trafficking and improve access to services and benefits for which they are eligible.

The three grants awarded in FY 2015 went to Mountain Plain Youth Services – Bismarck, North Dakota; County of Multnomah – Portland, Oregon; and Tumbleweed Runaway Program – Billings, Montana.  Grantees participate in an evaluation process to help improve services for domestic victims of severe forms of human trafficking.

Grants to Address Trafficking within the Child Welfare Population

The Children’s Bureau continued the second year of its five-year discretionary grant program to nine organizations to develop the child welfare system’s response to human trafficking through infrastructure building and a multi system approach with local law enforcement, juvenile justice, court systems, runaway and homeless youth programs; Children’s Justice Act grantees; child advocacy centers; and other necessary service providers.     Grant activities include developing and enhancing interagency infrastructure for collaboration; establishing and fostering cross-system communication between partner agencies; developing and implementing trainings; raising awareness in local communities; developing best practice models for interagency work; and developing and/or enhancing data collection and reporting systems.

The nine grantees, working with numerous partners, include the Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research at Arizona State University; California Department of Social Services, Children and Family Services; State of Connecticut Department of Children and Families; Healing Place Serve in Louisiana; Justice Resource Institute in Massachusetts; King County Superior Court in Washington; Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc. in Florida; University of Maryland, Baltimore; and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Social and Economic Development Strategies Grants

ACF ANA continued grant funding to the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center under the Social and Economic Development Strategies funding opportunity for program activities, including providing a culturally-grounded support group for young American Indian men aged 16–21 who are at high risk for involvement in commercial sexual exploitation.

Interagency Coordination and Collaboration on Benefits and Services to Victims

HHS co-led the SPOG Victim Services Committee with DOJ and DHS.  Highlights from FY 2015 included the release and posting of the FY 2013-2014 status report on the Federal Strategic Action Plan; joint stakeholder meetings with tribal leaders, survivors and the general public; and coordination across programs and policies. 

In FY 2015, HHS’ Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation and ACF continued a project to identify a screening tool and protocol that can be used by youth-serving programs to identify youth who are victims of human trafficking; pilot test the feasibility (viability), reliability, and validity of implementing this screening tool and protocol in child welfare and runaway and homeless youth settings; and identify data elements that can be collected and reported to better determine the extent of the problem and improve services to youth.  A youth advisory group was implemented to assist the project.

The JVTA provides amendments to the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA). With these amendments to the RHYA, FYSB is increasing the capacity of Runaway and Homeless (RHY) grantees to provide appropriate services to youth victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

National Human Trafficking Resource Center

In September 2013, ACF awarded a three-year grant to Polaris, an anti-trafficking NGO, to operate the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC).  The NHTRC is a dedicated national, toll-free, confidential anti-trafficking hotline (1-888-373-7888) that is available by phone, email, and online tip form to respond to requests from anyone, anywhere in the country, in more than 200 languages, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.  The NHTRC provides round-the-clock emergency assistance and support; connects individuals in need with referrals for specialized victim services; refers tips to specialized federal, state, and local law enforcement agents; provides technical assistance; and disseminates information and training on human trafficking.  The NHTRC Web portal is an online forum for information, resources, and training tools designed to build the capacity of the anti-trafficking field. 

In FY 2015, the NHTRC received 33,844 calls, a 1.5 percent decrease from the previous fiscal year.  (The total number of calls to the NHTRC hotline excludes calls seeking assistance outside the United States and U.S. territories. In previous years, these calls were included. This total includes non-substantive calls (i.e., hang ups, wrong numbers, and missed calls) and unrelated calls that fall outside the scope of the NHTRC services.)  Of the total hotline calls, 76 percent were substantive in nature (i.e., not hang up, wrong number, or missed calls).

Types of calls to the nhtrc (partial list) number of calls
Crisis Calls 1,843
Tips regarding possible human trafficking 5,208
Requests for victim services referrals 3,644
Requests for general human trafficking information 3,798
Requests for training and technical assistance 582

 

In FY 2015, the NHTRC received reports of 5,418 unique cases of potential trafficking, a five percent increase from the prior year.  (As of FY 2015, the BEFREE text line no longer falls under the scope of NHTRC. The BEFREE text line is operated independently by Polaris. Potential trafficking cases received through the BEFREE text line are no longer included in this report, so the report does not include any numerical comparisons between FY 2014 and FY 2015 human trafficking cases in this report.)  A total of 756 of these cases referenced situations of potential labor trafficking, 3,998 cases referred to potential sex trafficking, 169 cases involved both sex and labor trafficking, and the type of trafficking was not specified by the individual contacting the NHTRC in 495 cases.  Cases referencing potential trafficking included the trafficking of foreign nationals, U.S. citizens, LPR, adults, children, males, and females.  The NHTRC received 3,487 calls directly from victims of human trafficking, a 34 percent increase from the prior year.

During FY 2015, the NHTRC received calls, emails, and online reports from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and more than 30 foreign countries requesting assistance in the United States and U.S. territories.  The top five states with the highest call volume were (in order by highest volume): California, Texas, Florida, Ohio, and New York, which together comprised nearly 45 percent of the calls where the caller’s state was known.

The NHTRC fielded nearly 93 percent of substantive calls in English, nearly six percent of calls in Spanish, and one percent of calls in 30 other languages.  The top ten caller languages other than English and Spanish were (in order by highest volume): Mandarin Chinese, Tagalog, Russian, Korean, Hungarian, French, Arabic, Vietnamese, Amharic, and Portuguese.  In five percent of substantive calls, the NHTRC call specialists communicated with callers in languages other than English through a private interpreting service, Certified Languages International.  Spanish-speaking callers also spoke directly with bilingual NHTRC call specialists.

In FY 2015, 39 percent of the total substantive calls placed to the NHTRC required follow-up after the call had ended.  One of the most important and complex forms of follow-up, and one of the NHTRC’s central functions, is to facilitate timely reports and referrals to appropriate law enforcement and social services entities.  A total of 1,434 potential human trafficking cases resulted in a direct report to law enforcement, which included members of DOJ/BJA Human Trafficking Task Forces, DOJ’s HTPU, the FBI’s CRU, DHS HSI, law enforcement officials within the ACTeams, the FBI Innocence Lost Task Forces, and law enforcement agents assigned to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), as well as state and local law enforcement and task forces.  The NHTRC also reported cases to contacts within DOL WHD, DOL Office of the Inspector General, DOS Diplomatic Security Services, DOS Office of the Inspector General, and DoD Office of the Inspector General.  In 7,252 cases, the NHTRC provided individuals in need with referrals for social services for victims of human trafficking, the most common of which included emergency and transitional shelter, comprehensive case management, legal services, mental health, and transportation assistance. 

The NHTRC also receives tips and inquiries through email and an online reporting form accessed from the NHTRC Web portal.  In FY 2015, the NHTRC received 1,323 emails, which included tips regarding potential trafficking (12 percent), requests for general information (32 percent), requests for training and technical assistance (18 percent), and requests for victim services referrals (six percent).  The NHTRC also received 1,749 submissions through the Web portal’s tip reporting system, 49 percent of which referenced potential cases of human trafficking.

The NHTRC serves as a resource for anti-trafficking information; educational materials; promising practices; specialized tools for service providers, law enforcement, and other key stakeholders; and online trainings and training opportunities.  In FY 2015, the NHTRC launched a new web portal that contains these resources as well as the National Human Trafficking Referral Directory, a searchable directory of emergency, transitional, and long-term services in the United States.  The directory also connects individuals with training and technical assistance and opportunities to get involved in their communities.  In FY 2015, the National Human Trafficking Referral Directory received 33,871 unique page views. 

In FY 2015, the NHTRC web portal received 719,983 unique page views.  (In FY 2015, the NHTRC built a new web portal, separate from the Polaris website. Previously, the NHTRC web portal had been embedded in the Polaris site. As a result, the NHTRC recorded fewer web portal visits in FY 2015.)   The most visited NHTRC pages were Hotline Statistics (58,171 unique page views) and Human Trafficking (44,184 unique page views).  During this period, the highest visitor rates for all pages were from Montana, Florida, and Texas.

By the end of FY 2015, the NHTRC had received information regarding the outcomes of 745 cases of potential human trafficking.  Investigations were opened in 476 cases; in at least 77 cases, potential victims of human trafficking were located, removed from the situation, or provided with services.  In at least 11 cases, potential traffickers were located, arrested, and charged with a crime or convicted (or both). (The NHTRC often learns of case outcomes several months after the case has been reported, and in many cases outcomes are received the following fiscal year.)

The following are examples of cases that resulted in the successful recovery of victims and in the investigation or arrest of the potential traffickers:

A caller contacted the NHTRC hotline to report an ongoing violent sex trafficking situation involving a teenage female.  The trafficker was forcing the victim to engage in commercial sex throughout the state and was advertising her via backpage.com.  The trafficker was the victim’s intimate partner and was also forcing her to become drug dependent.  The NHTRC reported the tip to law enforcement, and the caller followed up with the NHTRC shortly thereafter to inform hotline staff that the victim had been recovered and the trafficker arrested.  The NHTRC connected the victim with service referrals in her area.

*****

The NHTRC received a call from the neighbor of an adult female foreign national domestic worker who reached out for help.  The traffickers subjected the victim to extreme physical and emotional abuse, including severe food deprivation and intense monitoring.  The victim had been in the situation for several years and had not been paid.  The NHTRC helped to coordinate her extraction and connected her to services and emergency shelter.

*****

The NHTRC learned of a potential sex trafficking situation involving a U.S. citizen adult female.  The trafficker had forced the female to strip and engage in commercial sex in various hotels throughout the state.  The trafficker was described as physically violent and controlling.  The NHTRC reported the tip to law enforcement partners, and the female was recovered as a result of a sting operation.  The trafficker was arrested, charged, and subsequently indicted.

 

Training, Outreach, and Public Awareness Efforts

 

HHS and Interagency Collaborations

HHS co-chaired the SPOG Public Awareness and Outreach Committee with DOS and DHS.  The committee coordinated federal messaging for National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, drafted a toolkit for faith-based leaders, and committed to target efforts for several highly vulnerable populations.  A focus in FY 2015 was on Native Americans.  The Department of Interior’s BIA joined the committee in FY 2015.

OTIP, HHS Office on Women’s Health,and HHS regional staff continued to pilot the SOAR Pilot Training to “Stop, Observe, Ask, and Respond” to human trafficking.  The training is built on years of engagement with diverse stakeholders and federal partners, including engagement through the 2008 HHS Symposium on the Health Needs of Human Trafficking Victims and the 2014 SOAR Technical Working Group of survivors, subject matter experts, and health care providers.  Testing of the training materials for different audiences has started through presentations for educators,nurses, counselors, and emergency preparedness professionals.

Public Private Partnerships on Training, Outreach, and Public Awareness

As part of their awareness activities for National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in January 2015, HHS, ED, and President Lincoln’s Cottage launched a peer-to-peer social media competition to raise awareness about human trafficking among high school students.

On September 15, 2015, HHS and the American Medical Women’s Association sponsored a Health and Human Trafficking Summit at the HHS headquarters.  Federal agencies, national agencies, and organizations presented and discussed current anti-trafficking initiatives and best practices in health care as well as challenges and opportunities. 

ACF – ORR and OTIP

HHS provided 14 briefings for international visitors sponsored by DOS’ IVLP.  Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, nongovernmental leaders, and representatives from governmental ministries from 23 countries received briefings from HHS’ anti-trafficking program staff on HHS’ efforts to combat human trafficking and assist victims in the United States.

In addition to the presentations and trainings by ACF child protection specialists previously described, in FY 2015, HHS offered training and technical assistance to state officials, law enforcement and criminal justice administrators, social service providers, ethnic organizations, students and academics, policy makers, and legal assistance organizations, among other professional groups.  OTIP staff continued to provide information and technical assistance by phone and email to service providers, law enforcement, and immigration attorneys on an ad hoc basis. 

Through the NHTRC and the Rescue & Restore Regional Program grantees, ACF expanded training opportunities throughout the country.  During FY 2015, the NHTRC conducted 49 trainings and presentations and 100 remote consultations by phone or email.  This training reached a total audience of 5,113 people consisting of service providers in the anti-trafficking and related fields, local and federal law enforcement, governmental officials, child welfare and juvenile justice professionals, health professionals, coalitions and task forces, community groups, faith-based organizations, educators, students, businesses, and more. In FY 2015, the most frequently requested topics across all audiences were local infrastructure and referrals, introduction to the NHTRC, human trafficking statistics, introduction to human trafficking, victim identification, and conducting trafficking assessments.  The NHTRC created four online trainings: “Trauma-Informed Human Trafficking Screenings,” “Human Trafficking Awareness for Educators,” “Human Trafficking Public Outreach Campaigns,” and “What to Expect When You Call the NHTRC.”

The NHTRC created new fact sheets titled “Child Labor Trafficking in the U.S.” and “Labor Trafficking Prosecutions in the U.S.”  It created new victim outreach cards for labor and sex trafficking.  These resources are available on the NHTRC website.  In FY 2015, the NHTRC sent six bimonthly newsletters on trafficking issues to its listserv of more than 16,800 members.

In FY 2015, callers from 424 calls to the NHTRC were identified as having learned of the NHTRC hotline number through the “Know Your Rights” pamphlet issued by DOS.  Of those calls, 18 percent involved reports of potential human trafficking, crisis situations, or requests for victim services referrals.  The pamphlet yielded the fifth highest volume of substantive calls (seven percent) after “Referral” (18 percent), “Internet-Web Search” (18 percent), “Prior Knowledge” (12 percent), and “Word of Mouth” (10 percent) among callers who identified how they learned about the hotline.

Campaign to Rescue and Restore Victims of Human Trafficking

The Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking campaign entered its 12th year in FY 2015 through the continuing efforts of Rescue & Restore coalitions consisting of volunteers and dedicated social service providers, local governmental officials, health care professionals, leaders of faith-based and ethnic organizations, and law enforcement personnel.  The coalitions’ goal is to increase the number of trafficking victims who are identified, assisted in leaving the circumstances of their servitude, and connected to qualified service agencies and to the HHS certification process so that they can receive the benefits and services for which they may be eligible.  Along with identifying and assisting victims, coalition members can use the Rescue & Restore campaign messages to educate the general public about human trafficking.

In FY 2015 HHS distributed over 883,000 pieces of original, branded Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking public awareness campaign materials publicizing the NHTRC.  These materials included posters, brochures, fact sheets, and cards with tips on identifying victims in eight languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Indonesian, Korean, Russian, Thai, and Vietnamese.  The materials can be viewed and ordered at no cost on the HHS website, which is incorporated into all campaign materials.

Rescue and Restore Regional Program

In FY 2015, HHS’ Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking Regional Program continued to promote local responsibility for anti-trafficking efforts.  The Rescue & Restore Regional Program employed an intermediary model to conduct public awareness, outreach, and identification activities for victims of trafficking.  The Rescue & Restore Regional Program grants reinforced and were strengthened by other ACF anti-trafficking program activities, including the trafficking victim assistance program, the national public awareness campaign, the NHTRC, and voluntary Rescue & Restore coalitions.

In the new grant awards made in FY 2015, which are listed further below, HHS re-focused regional program grant recipients on the four goals below. 

  1. Identification and Referral of Foreign Victims of Human Trafficking: To identify foreign victims of trafficking in the United States and refer them to service delivery systems.
  2. Training and Technical Assistance: To build local capacity by providing training and technical assistance on human trafficking to local organizations.
  3. Coalition Building: To lead or actively participate in a community-led effort to bring together and leverage local resources to address human trafficking in a region, such as a Rescue & Restore Coalition or law enforcement task force.
  4. Public Awareness: To promote the public’s awareness of human trafficking by educating the public about the dangers of human trafficking, possible indicators of sex and labor trafficking, and the protections available to victims.

These regional grants are intended to create anti-trafficking networks and bring more advocates and service providers into the Rescue & Restore anti-trafficking movement.

In FY 2015, Regional Program grantees made initial contact with 578 victims or suspected victims, including 494 foreign nationals and 82 U.S. citizens.  Of the foreign nationals, 124 were referred to law enforcement for possible case investigations and 53 received HHS certification.  Additionally, ten foreign victims with whom Rescue & Restore Regional grantees interacted in previous years received ACF certification during FY 2015.

Examples of the work of HHS’ Rescue & Restore Regional Program grantees and their sub-recipients include the following:

  • Sanctuary for Families, in partnership with the Mexican Consulate, conducted a public awareness campaign at the Corona Flushing Meadows Park Cinco de Mayo Festival, on May 3, 2015. Approximately 15,000 community members were in attendance, including primarily Spanish-speaking immigrants.  Sanctuary for Families created and distributed discreet and culturally appropriate prayer cards with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe on the front, and human trafficking indicators, as well as the contact information for Sanctuary for Families, on the back.
  • Catholic Charities, Diocese of Louisville, organizes volunteer-led HOPE Campaign outreach to at-risk populations on a monthly basis.  Catholic Charities distributes lip balms with trafficking indicators, as well as the contact information for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, and its local website, in both English and Spanish.  Volunteers distribute lip balms in various strategic locations, including gas stations, truck stops, hotels, and adult entertainment clubs.
  • Led by Colorado Legal Services, the Colorado’s Rescue & Restore Coalition and the Colorado Network to End Human Trafficking organized a dialog on June 25, 2015, that provided survivor-informed perspectives on the root causes of human trafficking.  Panelists from varied backgrounds—representing urban youth, ex-offenders, and foreign nationals, both urban and rural—discussed the conditions that exacerbate one’s vulnerability to various forms of human trafficking.  Panelists and 35 attendees explored the ways in which the voices of those most directly affected by trafficking can inform broader anti-trafficking efforts, including recommendations for improved services and policies.

Rescue & Restore Regional Program Grants funded in FY 2015

Metropolitan Family Services, Chicago, Illinois

International Institute of St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri

Nationalities Service Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Sanctuary for Families, New York, New York

Office of Criminal Justice Services, Columbus, Ohio

United Against Human Trafficking, Houston, Texas

Colorado Legal Services, Denver, Colorado

Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition, National City, California

Center for Family Services, Camden, New Jersey

International Rescue Committee – Seattle

International Rescue Committee – Miami

Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission, Fresno, California

Mosaic Family Services, Dallas, Texas

Opening Doors, Sacramento, California

UMOS, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Catholic Charities of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky

Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, Los Angeles, California

County of Pinal, Florence, Arizona
 

ACF- Family and Youth Services Bureau: Runaway and Homeless Youth Program

Through its Runaway and Homeless Youth Program, FYSB supports street outreach, emergency shelters, and longer-term transitional living and maternity group home programs to serve and protect runaway and homeless youth (RHY).Its human trafficking-related activities in FY 2015 included the following:

  • The Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center (RHYTTAC) convened a two-day Street Outreach Program (SOP) meeting in partnership with NCMEC and Polaris to increase SOP grantees’ knowledge of risks associated with social media and web communities.  SOP grantees at the meeting learned how these risks intersect with child sexual exploitation and human trafficking and the impact of these issues on at-risk and disconnected youth.
  • In FY 2015, RHYTTAC developed and delivered online training and prevention resources to over 300 RHY programs to enhance their skills, knowledge, and expertise on human trafficking.
  • In 2015, the National Runaway Safeline (NRS) published National Trends on Youth in Crisis in the United States, a report that provides insights on current and new trends impacting vulnerable youth.  NRS also focuses on prevention efforts by delivering educational resources and providing technical assistance to communities nationwide.  In 2007, NRS developed the “Let’s Talk: Runaway Prevention Curriculum.”  This curriculum is an evidence-based, interactive resource intended to build life skills, increase knowledge about runaway prevention, and encourage youth to seek help from trusted community members before running away.  Since its launch, over 60,000 copies of the curriculum have been distributed and downloaded, including the Spanish version.  In 2015, NRS conducted a desktop review of the curriculum to enhance activities and include a module to address child sexual exploitation and human trafficking prevention.
  • In FY 2015, FYSB hired a Human Trafficking Program Specialist to serve as a subject-matter expert on issues centered on commercial sexual exploitation of minors and human trafficking.  The program specialist builds internal capacity and works closely with FYSB contractors, grantees, and partners to ensure that RHY programs are identifying and providing quality services to youth victims of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.  Additionally, the program specialist participates in various committees, working groups, and task forces to enhance FYSB’s visibility and information-sharing capabilities.

ACF – Family and Youth Services Bureau: Family Violence Prevention & Services Program

In FY 2015, FYSB’s Family Violence Prevention & Services (FVPS) program provided training and technical assistance on human trafficking primarily through three of its culturally-specific special issue resources centers.  Some examples of this work include:

  • Trauma-Informed Care for Domestic Trafficking Survivors Webinar: The Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence (API-GBV), Casa de Esperanza, and the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health conceptualized, organized, and presented a webinar on domestic trafficking in collaboration with survivor-experts from Courtney’s House and Beating Trauma.  The online training focused on understanding pimp-, family-, gang-, crime syndicate-, and transgender-controlled trafficking; responses to different survivors given the types of trauma experienced by them; and how collaboration at points of contact can be designed to be culturally-specific and trauma-informed.  More than 1,200 individuals attended the webinar. 
  • FYSB/RHY Domestic Trafficking Grantees Technical Assistance: API-GBV provided content-area expertise to three FYSB Domestic Victims of Human Trafficking grantees representing programs in Arizona, New York, and Utah, and their technical assistance provider, RHYTTAC, during a one-and-a-half-day meeting convened to bring together resources and share knowledge about domestic trafficking.
  • Language Access Training: Interpreting in Domestic and Sexual Violence and Trafficking Cases and Identifying Trafficking Victims: API-GBV sponsored a full-day state-wide training for 30 sign and spoken language interpreters in Kentucky to learn about the dynamics of domestic and sexual violence to increase their knowledge, skills, and abilities in interpreting for such cases.  In addition, the meeting focused on helping interpreters to identify trafficking victims and to develop their interpretation skills and knowledge about the vocabulary of trafficking used by victims “in the life” and the vocabulary used by the field. 
  • Trafficking: State Coalitions Listening Session: API-GBV convened a listening session with 76 advocates representing state domestic violence coalitions to increase awareness of and attention to trafficking and to review training needs, policy changes, and funding streams that can have a positive impact for their member programs in addressing domestic trafficking, including that of Native and Tribal women and girls. 
  • Trafficking: Sex Trafficking of Native Women Webinar: API-GBV and the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) co-hosted a webinar that featured three experts from Native communities who presented information on interventions, research, analysis of the historical roots of trafficking as oppression against Indian tribes, and trauma-informed care to build the capacity of advocates for effective prevention and intervention of human trafficking in Native American communities.  More than 1,000 people registered for the webinar and received materials. 
  • Collaboration with Culturally Specific Organizations to Address Trafficking Webinar: API-GBV and Casa de Esperanza participated in a webinar series on collaboration to address human trafficking organized by a federal interagency group consisting of the FVPS Program, DOJ’s OVC and OVW, and the Center for Court Innovation.  API-GBV and Casa de Esperanza’s online training focused on trauma-informed care at points of contact, and how the knowledge, skills, and analysis of culturally-specific community-based organizations contribute to survivor-centered interventions.  Fifteen-hundred individuals registered for the webinar and received training materials.
  • Sex Trafficking of Native Women Webinar Series: NIWRC presented a survivor-centered webinar series on sex trafficking of Native women.  The series included a webinar on trauma-informed approaches for supporting domestic trafficking survivors.  
  • Women Are Sacred Conference: During NIWRC’s Annual Women Are Sacred Conference, NIWRC presented the following workshop presentations: “Targeting of American Indian Youth by Juvenile Sex Trafficking Operations in Minnesota”; “Institutional Collusion, Colonialism, and the Sex Trafficking of Indigenous Women & Youth”; “Standing Strong for Our Relatives Who Are Being Trafficked: Understanding the Connections Between Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault & Sex Trafficking”; and “Sharing Our Gifts: Training, TA and Resources for Tribal Coalitions on DV, SA & Trafficking.”
  • Trafficking: Listening Session for Regional Tribal Domestic Violence Shelter Directors and Staff: NIWRC held a listening session with regional tribal domestic violence shelter directors and staff to assess their level of understanding, training needs, and access to resources.  The session focused on the nexus between domestic violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking, and other forms of violence experienced by American Indian, Alaska Native, and First Nations women.  It also examined the information needs of tribal programs.  A report summarizing the findings of the listening session was developed. 
  • Foster Care and Sex Trafficking of Native Youth: NIWRC presented a workshop on “Foster Care and the Sex Trafficking of Native Youth,” at the SYNERGY II: Impact of Domestic Violence on Children Institute in Portland, Oregon.
  • Sex Trafficking of Native Women and Children Institute: NIWRC conducted the 2nd Sex Trafficking of Native Women and Children Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  This training institute offered four tracks for health care providers, advocates, LGBTQ individuals, and law enforcement.  It also held a separate training on the draft “Sex Trafficking of Native Women Toolkit” being developed by Dr. Alexandra “Sandi” Pierce.
  • Tribal Peer to Peer Sex Trafficking and AIDS/HIV/IPV Training Session: In collaboration with the FVPS program, NIWRC coordinated a two-and-a-half-day Peer to Peer Training Session on Sex Trafficking and AIDS/HIV/IPV in Seattle, Washington.  The training event brought together tribal domestic violence service providers from across the United States to share information and exchange best practices in responding to victims of sex trafficking. 

ACF – Children’s Bureau

On May 29, 2015, the White House, HHS’ Children’s Bureau, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative hosted a national meeting in Washington, D.C., titled “White House Convening on Developmentally Appropriate Services for Children, Youth, and Young Adults in Foster Care.”  The meeting assembled young people who have been in foster care, foster parents, child welfare directors and commissioners from across the country, and leading researchers in adolescent development.  Meeting participants developed recommendations to help federal government leaders instruct states in the implementation of provisions of the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 (Pub. L. No. 113-183) aimed at improving children’s experiences in foster care.

On June 10-11, 2015, the White House and HHS’s Administration for Children and Families hosted the National Convening on Trafficking and Child Welfare to support States in preparing for implementation of new mandates under the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014, including prevention and protection of children and youth who are at-risk of or are victims of sex trafficking.  Representatives from 52 states and jurisdictions included teams of Court Improvement Program grantees, judges, State Child Welfare Directors, and law enforcement. 

FY 2015 was the first implementation year for the Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative, which is a partnership among the Center for States, the Center for Tribes, and the Center for Courts.  This new structure consolidates services that had previously been organized by topical area and geographic region in an attempt to increase coordination, leverage resources, and provide more strategic service provision.  For example the Center for States is developing a training for the child welfare field on human trafficking to support the implementation of the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act. Webinars on human trafficking are also available at https://learn.childwelfare.gov.

In FY 2015, the Children’s Bureau provided information on human trafficking through the Child Welfare Information Gateway (CWIG).  CWIG continues to feature on its website a page on human trafficking, which highlights numerous publications and resources and connects concerned individuals to organizations addressing the issue.  Resources include state and local examples of such organizations.

In FY 2015, the Children’s Bureau provided technical assistance on addressing human trafficking through the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC), a member of the Children’s Bureau Training and Technical Assistance Network.  NRCPFC provided child welfare professionals and other interested parties a web page dedicated to Trafficked and Exploited Children and Youth.  The NRCPFC website offers publications, practice tools, and research materials from ACF; and evidence-based practice, research, and reports from collaborating organizations.

ACF – Administration for Native Americans

In January 2015, ANA issued an Information Memorandum for ANA grantees titled “Recognizing and Responding to Human Trafficking among American Indian, Alaska Native (AI/AN) and Pacific Islander Communities.” This memorandum went to all ANA grantees as a resource to help project staff understand the issue and respond appropriately should they encounter a victim or survivor of human trafficking.  In addition to featuring tips for recognizing trafficking, the memorandum provided a list of resources for additional training or support.

ANA held a panel presentation on human trafficking on July 12, 2015, during the United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. (UNITY) 39th annual conference. High school and college students participated in focus groups to review a draft outreach toolkit for tribal youth.

In FY 2015, ACF conducted several tribal consultations in which human trafficking information was discussed, and ACF hosted a Federal Tribal Listening Session with DOJ, DOS, and DHS specific to human trafficking in Indian Country.

 ACF – Office of Regional Operations

 The ACF Office of Regional Operations (ORO) has ten regional offices that engaged stakeholders throughout FY 2015.  Examples of trafficking-related activities include the following:

  • The Region 1 office participated in a briefing on research conducted by Boston University to gain a better understanding of the lives of women in Boston who fall victim to sex trafficking by studying women who had sought services through a survivor program. 
  • Region 2 implemented human trafficking trainings in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands for staff from federal, regional, state, territorial governmental agencies, and community- and faith-based organizations from the fields of anti-trafficking, public health, social services, law enforcement, legal services, child welfare, violence prevention, and related fields.
  • In Region 3, the Regional Interagency Task Force disseminated anti-trafficking brochures to 6,000 high school students at the start of the school year, which was a 200-percent increase in reach compared to the 2014–2015 school year.
  • Region 4 staff presented on human trafficking on Trinity Broadcast Network, a national faith-based television network with over 1 million viewers.
  • The Region 5 office co-hosted a roundtable with NCMEC in honor of National Missing Children’s Day.
  • Region 6 staff joined the Fort Worth Police Department Human Trafficking-Blue Team Unit workgroup.  Staff is participating in meetings with county, community, and faith leaders with the goal of creating an assessment tool to guide efficient identification of at-risk youth and reduce the incidence of human trafficking.  The assessment tool will be shared with other cities and communities to better coordinate strategies to reduce trafficking.
  • The Region 7 office attended the quarterly Nebraska Governor’s Human Trafficking Task Force Meeting in Lincoln in April 2015, and provided trafficking updates for the 24 members in attendance.
  • Region 8 convened an interagency training and collaboration meeting on human trafficking for 32 participants from HHS, the FBI, the Army, DOS, DHS, DOL, the Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, EEOC, and DOJ. 
  • Region 9 partnered with NCMEC to offer trainings on child sex trafficking and child safety prevention for Head Start, Runaway and Homeless Youth, community action, and child welfare grantees in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.
  • Region 10 partnered with DOJ and the FBI to conduct site visits with Western Washington tribes on human trafficking and victim service outreach.

ACF participated in multiple meetings with stakeholder organizations representing human trafficking survivors, service providers, researchers, advocates, state and local governmental organizations, and the general public.  FY 2015 engagement efforts included presentations at the National Conference of State Legislatures Conference, the Albany Safe Harbor Forum, the Georgetown Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Roundtable, the Engaging Faith Communities and Ending Human Trafficking Forum, and the Indian Wesleyan University Conference on Health and Human Trafficking.

Office of Communications and Office on Trafficking in Persons

In FY 2015, ACF provided information on federal anti-trafficking efforts during tribal consultations in Washington, D.C., and through regional offices.  The ACF Office of Public Affairs strengthened online and social media activity to raise public awareness about human trafficking, including 17 blog posts on the Family Room Blog and Twitter and Facebook posts.

In FY 2015, ACF funded the development of a new public awareness campaign that will update the “Look Beneath the Surface” Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking public awareness campaign.  Campaign products will include a video, new public service announcements for radio and websites, and updated posters and other materials.

HHS/Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA)

In FY 2015, SAMHSA implemented a General Adult Trauma Screening and Brief Response (GATSBR) Initiative with federal staff and private-sector subject-matter experts.  A toolkit and other products are being developed for primary health care and public health settings. These tools will provide guidance for screening for trauma, providing appropriate responses, and creating organizational cultures of trauma-informed care.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) grantees offered free webinar and in-person training on a range of topics related to child trafficking and trauma over the course of the year.

HHS/Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) 

HRSA has been a key partner in the efforts to address human trafficking across HHS.  In addition to its work in implementing the Federal Strategic Action Plan, HRSA has also provided input on the SOAR Training developed by ACF with support from the HHS Office on Women’s Health.  The training was designed to help health care providers Stop, Observe, Ask, and Respond to human trafficking. There is interest in piloting the training with Federally Qualified Health Centers.

On May 18, 2015, HRSA sponsored a webinar hosted by ACF in coordination with the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, Migrant Clinicians Network, and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council to highlight the importance of identifying victims of human trafficking in health care settings.

ACF Region 3 staff co-led the Regional Interagency Task force on Human Trafficking, which was established in 2014 by ACF.  Its mission is to educate the members of the public to recognize the signs of human trafficking and avoid becoming victims themselves.  The task force partners are the HHS Office of Population Affairs, ACF’s Regional Office, HRSA’s Regional Office, HRSA’s Maternal Child Health Bureau, the Department of Education, and the FBI.  During 2014, the task force partnered with the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health’s STD screening program for high school students.  The program conducts gonorrhea and Chlamydia screenings in most of the public high schools in Philadelphia.  Since the beginning of the 2014–2015 school year, students were given information on sex trafficking following their STD screenings. More than 3,000 students participated.  The Task force is in discussions with the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore health departments to educate high school students on sex trafficking at the same time they screen students for STDs or through the distribution of educational materials in the health departments’ health centers.

 

 

Last Reviewed: February 7, 2017

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