ChildRight: Building Child Welfare Response to Child Trafficking
Child victims of sex or labor trafﬁcking are often isolated, separated from a safe family structure, or already living on their own. Child welfare agencies play a critical role in the prevention, identification, and response to child trafficking because of their direct involvement with vulnerable youth. In many states, legislation demands that child welfare agencies be equipped to address the needs of trafficked children and youth. In reality, most child welfare agencies lack the training, skills, tools, and resources to properly screen, identify, and serve this population. Recognizing the need for a comprehensive, long-term strategy for state child welfare agencies to address child trafficking, including the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) and labor trafficking, the International Organization for Adolescents (IOFA) and the Center for Human Rights of Children at Loyola University Chicago (CHRC) created ChildRight.
The goals of ChildRight are to identify and address systemic gaps in knowledge, behavior, policies, and procedures in child welfare systems and to enable state and local child welfare agencies to screen, identify, and respond effectively to the needs of children and youth trafficked for sex and/or labor. ChildRight’s objectives are:
Increase the number of trafficked children and youth that are properly identified in the United States;
Improve the capacity of child welfare agencies to identify, assess, refer, and/or provide specialized services to trafficked children and youth; and,
Ensure a coordinated and comprehensive statewide response to child trafficking by building consensus and fostering collaboration across multiple sectors.
KEY OUTCOMES & ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- Trained 3,160 DCFS caseworkers on child trafficking identification and service provision throughout the state
- Generated new protocol and policies to guide child welfare investigations, including recommending a designated human trafficking coordinator position within DCFS and a human trafficking allegation in the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System
- With CHRC, developed a resource handbook for child welfare providers who may serve victims of trafficking. This resource has been downloaded over 600 times by practitioners across the country and is available here.