A blue heart is the symbol to raise awareness of human trafficking. Disturbing in any circumstance, it is even more so when children are involved. While exact domestic statistics are hard to come by, child trafficking has been reported in all 50 states. Activities vary from participation in the drug and sex industries to forced involvement in begging, magazine sales, agriculture, domestic servitude or other coerced labor. Young people who have experienced family trauma and abuse are especially vulnerable. Predators exploit their emotional fragility and find them through social media, at malls, bus depots, they even use other children to recruit them on school grounds.
Grants to Address Such Trafficking
Children in the welfare system are at greater risk when it comes to trafficking. A report by the California Child Welfare council found from 50% to 80% of juveniles involved in commercial sexual exploitation were current or former clients of a child service agency. Other states have found similar statistics. Therefore, the Department of Health and Human Services is making funding available to address trafficking within the child welfare population. The purpose of the grant is to raise awareness of the problem within the system and promote interagency cooperation to combat it.
Seven Key Areas to Focus On
- Building Infrastructure – strengthening the network between appropriate agencies to prevent trafficking, identify its victims and provide them with services and support.
- Data Gathering – the Department of Health and Human Services will provide workgroups to help develop uniform data collection on child trafficking.
- Cross-System Coordination and Collaboration – communication between child welfare, local law enforcement, juvenile justice, the courts, homeless youth programs and other relevant agencies.
- Implementation of Legislation Impacting Anti-Trafficking Efforts – including the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 and other applicable federal, state and local laws.
- Evaluation – projects must have ways to measure progress in meeting desired outcomes.
- Sustainability – maintaining the project past the period of federal funding.
- Dissemination – your results need to be shared with others in the field.
Nonprofits, state and local governments, Native American tribal organizations, independent school districts, public and private institutions of higher education, and some for profits are eligible. Matching funds are not required for this grant. The deadline to apply is July 11, 2016.
A Number to Know
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center is a 24/7 toll-free hotline that helps connect human trafficking survivors to support and safety. If you suspect someone needs help, provide them with this number – 1-888-373-7888.