Human Trafficking and the Child Welfare Population in Florida
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Human Trafficking and the Child Welfare Population in Florida


Welcome to today’s webinar: Human
Trafficking and the Child Welfare Population in Florida. My name is Susan
Howley and I am the program director for the Center for Victim Research. The
Center is built through a partnership between researchers and practitioners at
the Justice Research and Statistics Association, the National Center for
Victims of Crime, and the Urban Institute. the Center’s mission is to serve as a
one-stop resource for victim service providers and researchers to connect and
share knowledge to increase access to victim research and data and the utility
of research and data collection to crime victim services nationwide.
Today’s webinar is designed to address both of those by sharing some recently
gathered data and other evidence regarding child and youth trafficking
and thinking about what that means for practitioners. The Center for Victim
Research and this webinar are supported by funding from the Office for Victims
of Crime at the Office of Justice programs US Department of Justice. And
now it is my pleasure to welcome our presenters today.
Deborah Gibbs from RTI International and Sue Aboul-Hosn from the Florida
Department of Children and Families. Ladies welcome and Deborah I am passing
the slide control to you. Okay, thank you Susan.
Well we Sue and I are both honored to be here and in the spirit of the Center for
Victim Research what we’re talking about today is an example of a research
practice partnership in which the expertise of the Florida Department of
Children and Families who has absolutely been a terrific leader in this field has
informed what we do as researchers in the grant that is also funded by the
National Institute for Justice and we at RTI international have worked very hard
to share what we’re learning from this grant as we go along at each stage
so it can inform practice at DCF and support DCF in communicating about the
important research or important work that they’re doing. So um let me give you
a quick overview to start with of what we’ll be talking about and Jason I need
a little technical assist in where Deborah if you look right at the top of the
screen you’ll see a number four if you click on it. Thank you thank you for that
reminder. Okay. So what we’re going to be talking about
today is a quick background on both the where these numbers come from the
research and practice combination that provides the information that we’re
going to be talking about. A quick overview of federal and state policy
that frames the role of child welfare in responding to human trafficking both at
the federal level at the state level generally and specifically at the state
level in Florida. Then we’re going to describe our analyses of Florida’s data
on children with human trafficking allegation including their demographic
characteristics, their child welfare experiences with a specific look at the
experiences of children who run from care and are at increased risk of
trafficking victimization, and a more in-depth look at labor trafficking of
children within the United States and we’re going to give this a little extra
attention because it’s something that is widely not addressed in the broader
field of trafficking research. I want to talk quickly about what we know about
the extent to which Florida trafficking generally is still not entirely
identified even in Florida the state which is doing the most or
among those doing the most to identify and respond to trafficking I’ll say I’ll
probably say that again before the webinar is over. And uh based on what we have
learned so far both in our own research and that of others where are the
priorities for prevention services and other kinds of response. So going to the
research and practice this what I’m going to be talking about and Sue as
well is a combination of three sources of information. First we have a study
that is ongoing being conducted by RTI for the administration for children and
families in which we’re compiling information on how child welfare
agencies nationally are working to train staff, identify victimization, and provide
specialized services. The numbers and data that we present uh specifically
relate to Florida come from our study that we’ve just wrapped up in which RTI
has worked closely with DCF to describe the characteristics and experiences of
children who have been identified as potentially trafficked. In that study we
have used data for all children and who have investigated allegations of any
kind of child abuse neglect or child maltreatment between 2011 and 2017
that’s over a million children of whom just over six thousand had investigated
allegations of human trafficking. So that’s an enormous data set which you
know for people researchers like me just gets our heart going pitter-patter but
we always recognize the limitations of that data in terms of the many things
that we’d like to know more about that aren’t reflected in that data and the
remaining likelihood of under identification
of trafficking. And the third source of information that we’re going to be
drawing on today is Sue’s experience as somebody who has coordinated response
within central region of Florida and been very much involved in
identification, investigation, and case management or overseeing cases related
to children with trafficking allegations. So I know many of you are very familiar
with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and I won’t describe that except to
say this is the landmark piece of legislation first enacted in 2000 and
reauthorized several times that defines sex and labor trafficking and
specifically calls out trafficking or exchange of any sexual act of something
of value as as human trafficking even if there’s not force, fraud, and coercion
involved if the person involved is under the age of 18 so that’s the first
critical piece that really focuses attention on young victims of human
trafficking as we’ll talk about later that applies to sex trafficking but not
to labor trafficking. There’s also two additional pieces of legislation passed
in 2014 and 2015 the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families
Act and the Justice for Victims of Frafficking Act. These defined sex
trafficking as the form of child abuse and neglect created or extended the mandate
of child welfare agencies to responding to sex trafficking among children who
are already with among the population they’re being served and then more
broadly making trafficking of any child defined as maltreatment and within the
purview of the state child welfare agency
even if the person the adult involved is not a parent or caregiver even if the
child is not trafficked by a third person so it’s a very broad mandate and
those two acts together create requirements for child welfare agencies
to accept investigations, conduct prevention services, take special
attention to children who run away from care, and report data. Finally State Safe
Harbor laws have been passed some of them well ahead of the federal
legislation that provide levels of protection for minors for children under
the age of 18 so that they really decriminalize what used to be called
juvenile prostitution and in some states provide additional diversion from the
justice system or even protection from prosecution for related crimes. Now
Florida was well ahead of the federal acts of 2014 and 2015 in their response
so Sue is going to give us a quick overview of how Florida policy response
has evolved. Hello this is Sue thank you, Deborah.
First of all I do want to say that we’re very grateful that our RTI chose Florida
for their study and that we’re also learning from the information that they
have come up with so we’re really thankful for that.
But I want to review a little bit of the Florida legislation that was specific to
DCF and those in social services know that we use a lot of acronyms so DCF
stands for the Department of Children and Families so it’s the state child
welfare agency here in Florida so when I say DCF that’s what I’m referring to. But
there was several legislative changes to our statute that defines the protocol
that we use now and it also is what gave us all the reports that we have.
So going back in 2006 it was ordered you know through legislation that state
agencies were to help victims of human trafficking and that DCF can become
involved when a caregiver is not available and when there is a victim of
child trafficking it definitely requires notification to law enforcement. So that
was back in 2006 and the fact that DCF can become involved in a caregiver is
not available alleged the 2009 adding human trafficking as a maltreatment to
our abuse and the child abuse hotline because with our maltreatment of
human trafficking it does not have to be a parent caregiver as the alleged
perpetrator it could be someone unknown, a third
party, or even you know the allegation could say the child is independently
trafficking him or herself we accept all of those reports. So that was a little
bit unique from other states I know that. So then in 2012 we had the Safe
Harbor Bill passed again everyone’s kind of familiar with that but it focused on
making sure that commercially sexually exploited children were treated as
victims and looked to as victims. It also asked for DCF to license safe houses for
victims and for children who are victims of trafficking to be assessed for
placement in a safe house that were victims of CSEC: commercially sex
exploitation sex trafficking. And then 2014 we had another big bill passed
which said that we had to develop a screening or assessment tool. We had to
have specialized here it says CPI and CPI stands for child protective
investigators and case managers CM standing for case managers training so
when a CPI, a child protective investigator received a report on human trafficking
to investigate they had to have a specialized status to be able to respond
to human trafficking and when a case manager received a victim on their
caseload they had to have that same specialized status so with extended
training from their regular training. In 2014 the statue also said that we had to
have MDT staffings which we already were having anyhow since 2009 that was part
of our protocol and had to identify the services for the
child and who had to participate in the staffings also that DCF and DJJ is our
Department of Juvenile Justice had to also participate in task forces and
it created a Statewide Council on human trafficking which has a few
subcommittees and one of them, the Social Services Subcommittee, be shared by our
Secretary of our Department of Children and Families. And then recently in 2017
Senate Bill 852 passed which again sophisticated the whole MDT process
again and MDT stands for multidisciplinary team staffing and that staffing had to
inform a case plan for all suspected and confirmed victims of trafficking and it
also requested for a six month follow up on all verified see CSEC victims so as we
go through the as Deborah shares some more of the statistics that they came up with we
do know that 80 percent of our reports we receive at our hotline are on
community children not foster care children at the time we received the
report so we still have to do a six-month follow-up with all the
community children as well that had a verified report. So quickly going over
how our response protocol is designed obviously the report is made to the abuse
hotline and back in 2009 when we added that maltreatment to our hotline it was
human trafficking so we accepted all reports of human trafficking but we
quickly learned that when we want to pull information we don’t know if it’s
sex trafficking or labor trafficking so we divided it up later within a few
years into subtypes of CSEC for sex trafficking and labor for labor
trafficking. But once it comes to the hotline it’s assigned to a specialized CPI
and that CPI is immediately sent notifications to the people that are on
that particular areas list so mostly it’s going to be the people that would
be in the MDT, it would be law enforcement’s jurisdiction of wherever the intake was
to know that a report came in and we do respond with law enforcement if they
request us you know to wait for them to respond depending on the situation would
be if they respond with law enforcement immediately or if they waited. We have a
screening tool which in 2014 we had to develop a screening tool and they must
screen the on the intake all the victims on the intake within 24 hours and then
we also must have the MDT, the multi-team display staffing within two weeks of
that intake and and that’s for all suspected and verified victims so if there’s
absolutely nothing there when the CPI goes out then that MDT is not set on the
schedule. Again all verified victims have to be assesed for safe house and that happens
during the MDT staffing as well and all not what we call not substantiated so
all cases that are verified or have something going on must have a service
plan so we provide a service plan for any suspected victim or verified victim.
And if a child is placed into a safe house or any type of residence or
treatment program based on that report or their sex trafficking history they
must be assigned a case manager. Again all case managers must be specialized
with that um specialty track of training and then again like I said we
have a six month follow up on all verified investigations regardless if
they’re in foster care or they’re community children. So that’s kind of an overview
of how our response is laid out. Okay and I see a comment asking for a little
backtracking on on some of the acronyms child protective investigations
is that correct, Sue for CPI? Yes. The investigation that occurs? and the HTST
is the human trafficking screening tool it’s a tool that was developed in
Florida and we’ll talk more about that later but it’s not unlike tools that
have been developed and are in use around the country in different
kinds of agencies so thank you whoever erased that question and please do keep
pushing back when we get jargony. So I’m going to talk us through the
characteristics of children broadly and some special subgroups of children and
in doing this I’m going to refer to allegations and allegation of human
trafficking is something that is what happens when someone either law
enforcement another mandated report or anyone in the community calls a child
welfare hotline and reports a what they believe is human trafficking and if it
meets certain minimal requirements like it is about a child the child is in the
state the location of the child is known with some degree of you know it’s not
completely out there somewhere the child welfare hotline will accept accept the
case for investigation and then if the instance proves to meet the criteria and
the definition for human trafficking in Florida’s case for either sex or labor
trafficking it will be verified as having occurred and but whether verified
or not the child and their families may or will be receiving services or will be
offered services that’s allegations. So there there may be multiple allegations
over time of human trafficking for any specific child and most of what I’m
going to be talking about is specific children rather than investigated
allegations. As we talk about these numbers I’m going to beg you to remember
that these are identified allegations and identified children and we never we
are so far away from knowing that these actually represents the characteristics
of human trafficking in in the state of Florida
in the real world. So we feel that our numbers are pretty darn good because
this is a big data set but we also want to point out that you know the map is
not the territory and even if it’s the best map that we have out there. So with
that preamble. First thing that we want to point out always is that we know
that human trafficking research suggests many shared risk factors between
children who experience human trafficking and children who experience
other kinds of child abuse and neglect but we want to point out that only 20%
of the children who are with investigated allegations of human
trafficking were in the custody of the child welfare system at the time of that
allegation. The other big picture thing is that just over 90 percent of the
allegations recorded by DCF and investigated were for sex trafficking
rather than labor trafficking that’s still far more attention to labor
trafficking than is typically given but the characteristics of children who have
experienced sex trafficking or possibly experienced sex trafficking will
dominate the next few slides that we’re talking about. So among children with
human trafficking allegations they’re far more likely to be female about five
and six versus fifty percent compared to other children who experience
maltreatment of other kinds that and that includes child neglect, fiscal abuse, and
sexual abuse. Compared to the rest of the child welfare population, children who
experience trafficking are meeting average age of 16 versus 8 years and
even though they may not be in the child welfare system at the time of the
trafficking allegation, children who are investigated for possible
trafficking victimization are far more likely than others
in that population to have histories in the child welfare system of prior abuse
or neglect and the bar chart here shows what kinds of allegations these children
are more likely to have. So what you see there is neglect is always the most
common form of child abuse that is experienced but the biggest
disproportionality is in sexual abuse where children who have human
trafficking allegations are several times more likely to have experienced sexual
abuse. Sexual abuse is always something that gets talked about as a risk factor
for human trafficking but I want to plant in your mind that most of these
children experienced allegations of sexual abuse and some other forms of
abuse – sexual abuse and physical abuse sexual abuse and neglect and research in
the broader field really supports that kind of polyvictimization as a
particular risk for trafficking experiences. When we looked at the
experiences of children with human trafficking allegations within the child
welfare system these are the children who are at the deep end of the child
welfare system in every way we looked at. Even our analyses did adjust for child
age because as I just said children with human trafficking allegations tend to be
older than the rest of the population but even with that adjustment they are
three times as likely to have been in out-of-home care, even more likely to
have been in group home care rather than family foster care, and far more likely
13 times more likely to have run away from foster care. So I’m going to pause
for a second okay within respond to 20 percent of children in I’m going to
respond quickly to this questions that I can see
the 20% of children who are in placement that means the trafficking allegation
was identified at while they were in foster care it’s possible that it
occurred prior to foster care and was identified for investigation while they
were in foster care so it’s not necessarily saying that they were
trafficked while they were in foster care and this is a a concern and a bit
of a myth that foster care itself or group home experience itself is somehow
increasing children’s risk for trafficking victimization. We don’t
have strong numbers there but there are many many other possible explanations
for why those numbers are traveling together.
Um and okay Sue responded to the question about average age, thank you.
Anytime you see a statistic about children’s average age stop and ask how
old the sample how old the population was at the time that information was
collected because if you have a population of 16 year olds their average
age of entry to trafficking is going to be about 12. If you have a population of
adults the average age is going to be 18. It sort of depends on how old the group
is now just something you see confusing data about over and over again. So let’s
talk about children who run away from home. Among young people who are in
foster care after the age of 10 one in five about nineteen percent will run
from care at some point doesn’t mean if you have five children and five ten year
olds one of them’s about to run out the door
but over their lifetime history in foster care between ages 10 and 18, one
in five will run away at some point and many children run away multiple times.
One in ten will run 20 times or more. Of the youth who have at least one
runaway episode, 7%, one in fourteen, have an identified trafficking allegation a
trafficking allegation that was investigated related to the time that
they were on runaway status and for most of them it’s their first run identified
run allegation of human trafficking. Now again that there’s lots of reasons why
that could happen children run from care for many reasons some of them the
research suggests but a lot of kids run from care because they want to go to
their cousin’s birthday party they’re looking for you know something that they
want to do they want to see their family but some kids run away to somebody who’s
going to exploit them and some kids run away and end up without resources to
fall back on and then they are very much at risk for having to engage in
commercial sex in order to just support basic necessities and to survive. So we
know for lots of good reasons that that runaway episodes are a enormous
point of vulnerability for trafficking victimization and federal policy is even
further ahead is way out ahead of in a good way here by mandating the child
welfare agencies and others take a special attention to children who have
run away from foster care. So when I said that many of the children who have
trafficking allegations while they’re missing from care are identified that
that’s because DCF is doing a very thorough assessment when the child
returns from run away status and Sue’s going to describe that for us. Yes, so
when we have a child that goes missing and they’ve been recovered
then our case managers are required to do what we call a debriefing with that
child within 24 hours and we have a form that they have to complete once they’re
done with that debriefing but the purpose of the debriefing is obviously
to let the child know that we were concerned about the child while they
were missing but also what happened what you know made them want to go what made
them want to run away and what happened while they were on run away how did they
survive how did they eat who helped them you know what social media may be you
know all they have information that you would want to know about a child that
was missing that would also help you locate them maybe the next time they go
missing. But based on that debriefing you also find out that they were being
trafficked and that would make them call in a report for for trafficking as well
and also possibly screen them with the screening tool for trafficking. We’re
going to talk more about the whole missing child protocol a little bit
later but I just wanted to share that. Okay and so we will get to that but I
want to talk us through some the statistics about labor trafficking of
children first. I told you before that nearly 10% of allegations that the state
of Florida has investigated for human trafficking have to do with domestic
labor trafficking and this is labor trafficking of children who are in this
country at the time. They may be foreign national children or but the data that
DCF has compiled suggests that the majority are US citizens or permanent
residents. As I also mentioned before neither the two big pieces of
legislation that mandate child welfare involvement of human trafficking include
labor trafficking, they focus on sex trafficking. But labor trafficking is
still a crime and nothing prohibits child welfare agencies from addressing
it in there as part of their response to human trafficking and in fact studies
among runaway and homeless youth have found that about a half of the
human trafficking that the young people identify in surveys is labor trafficking.
When we compared the characteristics of children with labor trafficking were
that were identified by DCF to children with sex trafficking allegations the two
populations look very different. So children with labor trafficking
allegations just over half of them were male compared to one in six among
children with sex trafficking allegations they’re far less likely to
have had any current or prior experience with DCF and the they have far lower
history in terms of all kinds of prior maltreatment and prior involvement in
foster care. so Sue’s going to talk about the kinds
of settings in which DCF has investigated labor trafficking
allegations and while she’s talking we would both love it if people who have
been involved with labor trafficking allegations could enter a few words in
the chat box about what state they’re from and what kind of labor
setting the labor trafficking seemed was associated with. Sue? Yes, okay so like
Deborah said about 10 percent of our reports are for labor trafficking and we
know it’s really underreported in our state as well but we have seen quite a
large amount of the victims being US citizens and part of traveling sales
crews. And these traveling sales crews aren’t going from state to state so much
they’re kind of center they travel within Florida and they come back home
every night they bring the kids back home every night and they’re selling
like dollar store items, bottle tops, plastic tops, and it’s really a bogus
charity they say they’re working for a nonprofit organization they have some
great names they’ve created like teens against drugs and alcohol things like
that but we’re finding that they’re really being exploited for labor and
they’re also being you know coerced and forced to do things that they don’t want
to do and end up also getting involved in crimes and other things while they’re
out selling things because they’re not being picked up when especially picked
up and they’re just vandalizing things and or they want to eat and they steal
something from a convenience store so we’re having a big problem with those
type of cases. Um but we also do see the non-documented child that’s been placed
with an identified sponsor, allegedly a relative, and they’re actually forced to
work to pay the rent and pay back their debt we’re seeing those type of cases as
well. You know they’re forced to work in fields mostly sometimes lawn service
those are more of the non documented type of cases we see. And also the
servitude a few of those where the child was given to a relative or possibly sold
to a relative and then come to the states for a better life yet they’re
forced to work and clean the house and babysit children and often also there’s
sexual abuse involved with those as well. But we had a really big problem with our
traveling sales crews in the central area of Florida because the children
tend to be from that area yet the traffickers take them all over the state
of Florida even out of the state of Florida. They follow football games a lot,
so we’ve had children we’ve had to bring back from Texas the recent championship
in Atlanta you know we had a 12 year old that was held up at gunpoint for the
money in his pocket from selling items so it’s a problem that we’re trying to
tackle and we’re still working on it. Deborah? Okay and rounding out the picture
of the kinds of industries that Sue talked about and in the chat window
we’re seeing responses in terms of service industries, carnival work,
traveling sales crew, construction, restaurants,
ah brothels, and service industries. The bottom right illustration there suggests
that another area of labor trafficking is children engaged in coerced illegal
activities including drug sales but also shoplifting and that figures very
prominently in the research firm runaway homeless youth in other research and
where young people are coerced into illegal activities at the behest of
families, gangs, or even a facilitator who’s you know their pimp in terms of sex
trafficking. So this is an area that we really don’t know nearly enough about
and I hope that we’re going to be seeing more attention to it within state and
federal policy and services. Deborah this is Sue I just want to comment before I
go and mute about that as well. We do receive a lot of reports for sex
trafficking but within the narrative we also are hearing where they were forced to
sell drugs or forced to rob people you know we are seeing some of that as well
but definitely we need to get them coded more and reported as labor
trafficking. Okay and we’ve got a great question in the chat box of how do we
differentiate or do we differentiate between labor exploitation and labor
trafficking? Snd that’s a great question because there is a continuum there that
may not be easy to clearly demarcate but as with adults the distinctions between
exploitive conditions for labor in terms of somebody not being paid what they
were owed or somebody being threatened is the distinction as to whether the
individual has the opportunity to leave the situation whether they are
physically unable to leave or whether they’re unable to leave because somebody
else is holding their passport or because somebody says that you know
they’re the employers saying you owe me money for your housing and somebody’s
forced to continue working because of that. That’s where the line, fuzzy as it
may be between exploitive labor and labor trafficking, will get drawn. So I
want to move on to under identification because any article you read about we’ll
start off by talking about the extent of trafficking and how it’s a growing
problem but the reality is we just don’t know we don’t have any good valid
incidence or prevalence numbers for the extent of trafficking. What we know is
how trafficking is identified in different situations but as the slide
suggests that’s the tip of an iceberg of unknown size. In Florida what I talked
about was six thousand unique children out of a million living in the child
welfare population that’s 0.06 percent less than 1% of all investigated
allegations. If you only looked at children over 10 it’s about twice that
so 12 in a thousand but we have a national study of youth in the general
population the Add Health Study in which 5 percent of the young people
surveyed reported having traded sex for something of value before they were 18
or in their lifetime when they were 21 at the time. And so you know not
precisely depending on their ages at the time that would be the legal equivalent
of having experienced human trafficking so we know that there’s under
identification even within the child welfare agency that is far and away
doing more to identify human trafficking compared to other states as far as I
know. RTI at RTI our statisticians have run
statistical models looking at the characteristics of children who do have
identified trafficking victimization and extrapolating from
there using a couple different methodologies and depending on the
method it suggests that at least 3 times as many more children are victims
than are identified and it could be much more. So clearly there’s a long way to go
and on the ground and in practice the strategy is just to continue child
welfare efforts and efforts in other agencies serving children who are at
increased risk to identify trafficking and Sue’s going to talk about some
specific ways that Florida has worked on that. Sue you may be muted. Yeah took me a
minute to get off the mute sorry. Yeah well for one thing I just want to point
out in 2009 when we added the maltreatment to our abuse hotline that
first year we only had 43 reports come in. Last year we had over 2000 reports
come in so obviously awareness is is huge right? It’s not because we have so
much more children within those amount of years that are being trafficked we
just have more awareness and people are actually identifying it and calling it
in. So we have focused on doing awareness and training with our uh what I would
say our usual mandated reporters which everyone’s a mandated reporter but our
school staff, our hospital staff, our you know first responders, everyone to know
when they come you know in touch or cross or identify a victim or possible victim
that they can make a report to our hotline. But on top of that we also
have done the specialized training within our system with our case
management and our child abuse investigators as well so they know what
they’re looking at as well because they could have had a child under caseloads
who had all the signs of being trafficked but had no idea that that’s
what it was. So it took a while in over the years as you can see our reports
have increased our identification has increased as well among the population
we served. But awareness is what has helped us increase identification and
using the human trafficking screening tool and being trained appropriately on
that which we’re going to talk more that later as well has helped us
identify more. Okay so our goal was to allow plenty of time for questions at
the end and we’re going to speed up a little bit but we wanted to talk through
some of the strategies that we do have available or that the field has
available for the response to human trafficking. And you know as a researcher
my goal is always to look for absolute certainty but we know enough to guide to
begin responding and in fact many communities are responding in child
welfare and other systems. In terms of prevention, these are there are curricula
and interventions that are particularly addressing children who are at high risk
who are in child welfare or juvenile justice settings. Interventions with
evaluations include my life my choice and love146 not a number which has the
advantage of also being directed at males as well as females but we
certainly need more male focused programs. But it’s also true that it’s
not just children in the child welfare system who need to hear this prevention
message so Sue can you talk a little bit about what Florida is doing in terms of
community-focused prevention efforts and while Sue talks I’d love we’d love to
hear any promising or successful prevention strategies that people in the
audience want to point to and please include your state in your response. Okay
so I think we all know that this is a two-generational problem if we want to
do prevention is that prevention for the family for the children and for the
adults as well. And we also have stress on trying to get prevention within the
schools for the students themselves. Some schools in Florida every district has
their own ability to approve curriculums so some schools have done that and in
most schools we have done a poster series which
is a four-set poster series one is focused on whether trafficking and the
other three are sex trafficking which are targeted for children you know the
message is for children to read and understand. Of course we’ve done training
and awareness for the staff on how to respond but also we’ve done this little
bit of prevention pieces within the school and right now in front of
legislation there is a bill that’s going to require mandatory training within the
the uh health class in high school so hopefully that will pass as well.
Again and also another thing that schools are focusing on is the internet
safety as well that’s a huge step to prevention for children to understand
how easy it is to be groomed through the through gaming and through you know
internet media and social media etc. as well so we’ve been working on all of
those still have a long way to go but those are some of the things that we’ve
been trying to do. Okay and thank you for the people who are entering other
responses in the chat box we will really look forward to examining them later.
I want to talk about efforts to improve identification including screening. This
is certainly an area of a lot of focus in child welfare and often in juvenile
justice. There are two strategies that are often used together one are
indicator tools like those illustrated on the slide that identify some red
flags that should alert providers to the possibility of human trafficking. The
other are interview tools that consist of questions that ask directly of youth
in non-jargon terms and that are very behaviorally specific about the work
they do whether, they’re paid for their work, whether anybody forces them or
threatens them, and these tools depending on the setting may be administered to
all children or maybe the interview tool is administered to children where
there’s a red flag observed or as Sue described earlier whether some form of
screening is done at a particular moment like when a child has returned from a
runaway episode. There’s lots of great work being done to improve and validate
these tools but we want to stress that the best interview tool in the world is
not going to produce good information unless it’s being used in a setting
where the young person feels comfortable, where they have a relationship that
includes trusting the person who’s asking these questions, and whether they
have a good reason to believe that something good will happen if they
acknowledge what they’ve experienced. So Sue do you want to briefly describe? And I’m
sorry to be rushing us. I know we’re running out of time. Yeah so the
human trafficking training tool that we develop in 2014 we did and in
conjunction with our Department of Juvenile Justice and a few other
agencies we formed a workgroup, went over all the existing tools at that time, and
decided to develop our own in response to remember the legislation that ordered
us to develop one because we didn’t find one at that time that address male and
female and address labor and sex trafficking. Ours is not perfect we’ve
learned a lot from it and we’re reevaluating it also now but it has
really made a big difference for us and I will tell you when we first piloted it
among our child abuse investigators we chose two areas that had very low
verification rates compared to the rest of the state which didn’t make sense
because they were a large city there were very large cities. So as soon as
they got training on the tool and started utilizing the tool their
verification rate of cases went up tremendously where they were at the same
as state average or above the state average.
It helped them understand more what it was of course the extra training also
helps but also we quickly learned that we had to train them and as Deborah has
already kind of mentioned it has to be a conversation with a child. Just because
it’s labeled a tool it’s not a checkbox it’s not something you take with you and you
just check off all these questions. It’s to guide your conversation it’s
something we train them to be familiar with we ask them not to show it to the
child but it is to inform their conversation and obviously you know they
need motivational interviewing skills and they need to know how to respond to what the
child says. They may not get the answers in the order of the tool you know it’s
just supposed to be a conversation they can go back and look at everything all
together on this paper or on on their desktop as they fill out the answers to
these questions and it all makes sense to them and it makes them you know
understand more what’s going on with that child so that’s how we use the tool.
Okay so I’m going to talk about responses across youth-serving systems to run away.
These include prevention strategies there are a couple validated prevention
strategies that engage young people in identifying the reasons why they might
run away from foster care and engages them in a partnership to say well what
can we do that would help you stay where you’re placed and sometimes it’s often
is something that turns out to be very much within the power of the child
welfare system. There are harm reduction strategies that could include making
sure that young people who have run before have the information about where
a safe shelter might be and other strategies to do assessment like what
sue described when a young person comes back to say you know what have you
experienced? How did you where did you stay when you were away? You know let’s
look at what kind of factors that we can address there. And Sue forgive me but I’m
going to just summarize what I think you would have described much better as the
final piece of that and that’s a system response to engaging all kinds of
providers not just in reducing the frequency with which you run but
increasing the response in terms of reporting runaway youth to
national hotline for National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and
improving the response that helps recover children from runaway
episodes quickly. I want to talk very briefly about opportunities to improve
the response for labor trafficking prevention strategies include things
like the awareness raising that Sue described, incorporating labor
trafficking in other prevention programming for young people, but also
training community first responders because they’re often you know police
are often the first people who notice something that just doesn’t quite look
right when a young person is selling trinkets on the street and other
services that might support children who need extra income because their
either in response to their family’s situation services broadly with that
would it reduce labor trafficking might include things like summer jobs program
and Susan is reminding me that we can keep talking and we will be happy to
answer questions online even after we get to the top of the hour but we know
some people need to get off so we’re going to talk a little more quickly here.
States are implementing and this is me talking from our national
study. States are implementing coordinated services for young people
who are identified with as having experienced trafficking. It’s a central
tenet that these services that they be trauma-informed and including trauma-
focused cognitive behavioral therapy. Many states are incorporating survivor
lead or survivor staff services into the supports that they offered for child
children who are trafficked. Some are working with specialized placement
services like uh residential settings that are very specifically trained and
geared up for children who have been trafficked or even therapeutic foster
care and always with a lot of coordinating among the different
services that these children need. Sue anything quickly that you want to ask or
should we just keep going here? No well quickly I just want to say that
you know we do have the safe home program as well as safe foster homes
program and also a lot of victim and survivor led services available. We do
know that the safe foster home model tends to be more successful with the
child of the more one-to-one interaction and even if the child runs that they you
know being available to have the ability to return to the same home and build up
that bond with those foster parents has been great so I just wanted to share
that. Okay and finally I just want to talk briefly about the importance that
all these services have a very comprehensive focus. Everything we know
about trafficed youth suggests that they’re they’re most likely to come from
profoundly vulnerable settings in which they’ve been experiencing some form of
disadvantage for much of their lives with few resources that they need to
navigate into adulthood. So trafficking victim services can’t
just address those immediate immediate needs. It is not about rescue and
providing some safety and mental health and physical health
although those are of course essential but we also have to be thinking about
long term social relationships this kind of support that any young person needs
to navigate into adulthood through support for education and employment
development. And the evaluations that we including people like me do have to
assess or look at that holistic perspective. So um we both apologize I
apologize in particular for going over time but um
I am happy to respond to any questions that people put into the chat box and as
Susan is entering we will post some additional resources with more complete
details on some of the things we’ve been talking about. But thank you speaking for
both of us I think. Right well thank you both of you. I’m so glad that we that we
learned so much today about the research and the practice going on in Florida so
please folks go ahead and enter your questions in the chat box and as I
warned you at the same time we’re going to go ahead and post our exit poll so
that those of you who have to leave can give us some quick feedback before you
do but we’ll turn to and if you can see you can reopen the chat box so just
click on chat. So we’ll go ahead and start some some of these questions. The
first question what that I see is as a practice do you uh do you try to
address concerns outside the court? And I’m assuming that must be regarding court
involved youth. Okay Sue take it. Yeah this is Sue. Could you be more specific what
you mean outside the court? We do get them counseling um I’m not sure what do
you mean if there’s no court case? This might be outside of children who are
legally mandated in the dependency courts to the child welfare system so
not what you would call community kids. Adress conerns outside the court? But Richard
please type. Oh yeah if you could be yeah be a little bit more specific so that
I know how to answer. We do address community children and dependent
children the same as far as services and even placement in safe houses if that’s
what you’re asking. Well while we’re waiting for some more
questions to come in I had a question oh I see that that is what Richard was
asking. Children who are removed from their home.
So children who are removed from their home concerns outside the court
case with the? I’m sorry I’m still not sure but we do try to address all the
concerns of the child that’s involved with the dependency case or not those
are one anyway. I know that Florida’s law you know the safe houses are absolutely
accessible to young people even if they’re not involved with child welfare
systems. Right we have to respond we have to respond to all
verified victim the same regardless if they’re dependent involved or not. So I
had a question: are you all working on some follow-on research already? This has
been great information but what are your next steps? As it happens we are in the
process of planning a continuation of our work with Florida that we’re very
happy to have received in which we’re going to be looking at children who are
involved in the juvenile justice system and you know including those who are
involved in both child welfare in the juvenile justice system and the
implementation of the human trafficking screening tool within the juvenile
justice setting. That sounds very interesting and there’s a clarification
for a question in the chat box. Okay okay so Richard who asked the question about
court raises the question of children being lost once they’re placed into the
system and I don’t know if that is uh foreign national children being
lost in the system or rather than foster care and for children?
Okay both children, thank you. I think the experience of I will speak because they
just spent a long time researching this for an article that we’ve got coming out
on labor trafficking. Foreign national children unaccompanied foreign national children are placed in
with sponsors by the Federal Office of Refugee and Resettlement, not by the
child welfare system so the reports about children being lost once they’re
placed with sponsors are on the responsibility or that’s an issue with
in ORR. Um I think within the foster care system and Sue will definitely speak to
this, children don’t get lost. Right this is Sue. Not at all, we have a very strict
protocol on that and the courts the dependency judges are very supportive of
this of all of victims of trafficking as well and the dependency court system. And
I know there’s several states in which dependency Court judges have been real
champions of this effort, New Mexico, comes to mind. I was just on
panel with judge Martinez. Sue can you talk briefly about standardized training?
Yeah so there’s policy and I see that question now so our standardized training which
is an additional six hour course initially is also the outline for it is
identified by policy and then they have to maintain a quarterly training as well
to keep up their status so additional trainings. And well actually they have to
be a certified trainer so there’s an approved train to trainer course that
trainers can be certified by for that. Did I answer? Let me go back up it’s gone
down. You can exit out and get rid of the exit poll. National coalitions where
tools and programs can be discussed and compared? We you know we meaning RTI are
trying are about or in the process of planning a study where we will look
across all trying to assemble as many of these tools and do a little content
analysis of how similar or different there are. I do not currently know of a
resource for comparing those tools but I think the Federal Center for States or
the Child Welfare Information Gateway could be a great resource for finding
information. Sue do you want to ask about or respond to the question about
preferred interview method guidelines? Again
I don’t know of nationally or you know big picture references here. Yeah I don’t
know of any national like preferred or you know anything that’s been validated
or anything like that I just know obviously the child has to be
comfortable and you have to build up rapport so and you can’t force it. So um
that’s kind of you know of course you have to be trained in trauma-informed
care and motivational interviewing and all those other things you can utilize
but you have to also build up some kind of rapport and respect that child and be
non-judgmental. And I believe there are a couple fact sheets or suggestions on the
Child Welfare Information Gateway addressing best practices. I’m also
seeing a question now about refugee and immigrant populations coming to
Pennsylvania from many different countries and cultural issues and
solutions. Before you know I don’t know Sue if you want to add anything to
that but one suggestion I would add to make is reaching out to the lister
that’s operated by HEAL H E A L and we can post that and somebody else has
just suggested the Department of Homeland Security blue campaign. Sue are
you able to when we post it follow-up information are you able to share the HD
SC and the debriefing interview yes and MDT
tool as well the multi-team disciplinary tool that we have as well. All of them
are available in the Florida Centers for Child Welfare websites but I can post
them independently with you Deborah. Okay and again a question about undocumented
children. This is or well what we don’t have in our research and even in the research
the article that’s coming out is a good description of how many children or what
portion of the labor trafficking allegations identified in Florida occur
among children from outside the country because that information is not always
available when the investigation begins. But there is a Senate subcommittee
report that you can find that lays out this system and the differences among
system pretty clearly and there’s a link to one very good article from the
Congressional Research Service describing this system and I will post
that link when we add additional research resources. Just to comment a
little bit about the refugee immigrant population undocumented children as
well and what we’ve encountered and attempting to help them. Bbviously it
depends a lot a lot of the cultures are very closed they don’t want to share
anything but if we have a child that’s here alone without any real family and
has been placed with a sponsor that doesn’t really have an attachment to
they tend to be welcoming our help and are happy to leave that house and
actually go into foster care if it needs to be, it just depends. We also try to
find someone who is close to that culture or someone who may be from that
country that works within our agency that can go with us, interact with them
to understand a little bit more and make them more comfortable, someone who has a
native language that they share. You know but it is
difficult it depends what’s going on and it depends on their age. We’ve had
children as young as 8 without any adults with them or relatives with them
so it just depends. Okay and Sue there’s a question here about how does DCF work to
improve recovery of youth who are missing from care rather than respond in
addition to responding to them after they’re recovered? This is something we wanted
you to cover so here’s your chance. Yeah so back in 2002 actually we
developed a very strict protocol in responding to missing children we
actually connect it with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
back in 2003 where we directly within our system can hit a button and our report
goes to our Florida law enforcement and to the National Center immediately when
we complete the report within our system. But we have extensive training on it on
what to look for how to fill out these reports and then they have to make
weekly efforts to locate the child and we do extensive training in what kind of
efforts they can do and if a child ends up being missing more than 30 days they
have to do what we call a missing child staffing and included in that staffing
is the law enforcement detective that whoever is assigned to that agency to
that report is there is anyone assigned plus the case manager anyone else that
can provide insight to locating that child. I remember the debriefing forms
for the runners usually the debriefing forms if you look
back at them has a lot of information that can give you clues to where that child
is. So I would like to just share that back in 2003 because I used to do
missing children for the state in 2003 we averaged from any one day to have
over seven children missing. Today we averaged less you know 250 or less on
any one day missing from the whole state from from care and so and we also know
that they stay missing less so within two days we’re locating most of our youth that
go missing. So we have diligence, we make sure that every our foster care is
privatized and we call them CBC’s community-based care agencies everyone
has a position which is a missing child human trafficking specialist within
their group as well who have to also track and make sure that all these
things are being done by their case managers that
the diligence efforts to locate X address. That’s excellent. So this may be the last
question but I think it’s an important one about Florida’s reporting to the
federal government under the requirements of the Justice for Victims
of Trafficking Act and the prevention preventing sex trafficking. Yeah
so you could respond to that. I can respond nationally as well. I mean we’ve
already been in compliance with that so like I said in 2003 we were
reporting our missing children up to the National Center as well we were keeping
track on that report and on that missing child reporting form we have a tab that
they’ve been involved in prostitution, etc., and we are also have within our SAC
was our data system if the child is involved as identified victim etc., so we
have all that data already available so we were already kind of in compliance with
that before that act ever came out. Okay and the question may also have addressed
whether been thinking of requirements that state child welfare agencies report
the number of trafficked children to the federal government. The preventing sex
trafficking law required States to report that number and the Justice for
Victims of Trafficking Act requires states to record information or report
information to the federal government through the National Child Abuse and
Neglect Data System. That process is implementing slowly, there’s variability
as we know in terms of how states are defining and recording. Yes, exactly so
the federal government reporting requirement has been delayed there’s
some big question surrounding that which makes the data that Florida is
collecting all the more valuable so thank you, Alexis. Alright it looks like that’s it for
questions I want to thank you both again so much for sharing your time and your
expertise with us this has been really informative and folks I’ll remind you
that the recording and the slides and the links that we discussed will all be
available in the next couple of days we will send out an email to let you know
when that’s all been posted. Please do take the exit poll when you leave
Deborah and Sue any parting comments? That’s it thank you for everyone who
participated and asked questions and thank you, Susan for hosting. Yes thank you. All
right goodbye everyone. Bye-bye. Goodbye.

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