Across Indian Country, tribes are providing high quality, trauma-informed services and working to prevent sex trafficking.
considerations for child welfare agencies
As part of the Circle of Protection, tribal child welfare agencies can take action to protect and prevent the trafficking of children in their care. Agencies can determine their capacity to respond and decide how to intervene in all areas – from early prevention and intervention – to providing services and tracking data. A number of different ways to help protect Native children and youth can be considered. Tribes do not need to wait for the requirements of grants to tell them how to proceed – they can take action now.
The strategies listed are intended to help agencies explore how they would like to respond; these are not exhaustive.
1. Collaborate to address and prevent trafficking.
Building on the strength of tribal communities, effective partnerships rooted in traditional knowledge and values help create a strong circle of protection for children and youth. Learn more.
2. Identify those at risk.
Identifying victims is the crucial first step to address child sex trafficking and is a federal requirement for agencies receiving Title IV-B federal funding. Learn more.
3. Collect and analyze data.
Little data exists to truly understand the dangers of sex trafficking in tribal communities. If agencies begin to screen for and identify those at risk, tracking and analyzing that data can help improve service delivery and prevention efforts. For more information highlighting the need for additional data collection efforts, see: Human Trafficking: Action Needed to Identify the Number of Native American Victims Receiving Federally-funded Services and Human Trafficking in the U.S.: Concrete Solutions for Better Data Collection. See also: Journey Through the River of Data
4. Develop responsive policies and procedures.
Incorporating child welfare policies and procedures specific to sex trafficking will help to ensure a consistent and comprehensive response from all agency staff. Consider policies that are responsive to youth who run away and youth who are identified as victims or at risk.
5. Provide trauma-informed care.
As agencies work with children and families it’s important to provide services in a way that brings healing and support. Trauma-informed systems prioritize safety and commit to not causing those in need of support any additional trauma. View “Resources for Developing Trauma-Informed Systems.”
6. Provide staff and foster family training.
Services are better delivered when staff have a strong understanding of what sex trafficking is, how to identify the risk signs, how to utilize available screening tools, and how to intervene. Foster families can also be trained in how to identify and respond to risks. View “Training Resources for Tribal Child Welfare Staff.”
7. Educate youth and those aging out of care.
To help prevent trafficking, agencies can educate youth on what trafficking is, how they can stay safe, and how they can seek help if needed. View “Training and Resources for Youth and Their Caregivers.”
8. Raise community awareness.
Trafficking takes many forms. If everyone is educated, your chances of finding it and stopping it in your community are much higher. Learn more.
“Without proper intervention, the trauma of human trafficking can have a profound impact on children and their long-term developmental success. It is imperative that child welfare professionals learn best practices to effectively serve trafficked children involved with the child welfare system.”
Considerations for Child Welfare Agencies Receiving
Federal Title IV-E Funding
If your tribe is receiving or considering Title IV-E funds, certain requirements must be met to address sex trafficking. Even if your tribe is not currently receiving these federal funds, this information may still be helpful to better understand what’s required of your state or county and how that may inform potential partnerships.
- to include definitions in their plans,
- to consult with others that have experience with at-risk youth,
- to train their workers,
- to detect when children are at risk or have been exploited/made victims (especially if they are foster care youth that have run away),
- to determine appropriate services for those kids,
- to cross-report, and
- to collect data on the issue.
Tribal Practice Example: Pueblo of Zuni
Zuni has incorporated policies and procedures to address sex trafficking and has created a tool to assess for possible victimization.
ACF Programs Partner to Combat Human Trafficking in Native Communities
This January 2019 article highlights how the Administration for Native Americans and the Office on Trafficking in Persons are working together.
Prevention Resource Guide to Address the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Nevada
The Nevada Coalition to Prevent the Commercial Exploitation of Children, established in 2016, brought together a number of stakeholders and representatives from the Washoe Tribe of Nevada to develop a response to the trafficking of children. This prevention resource guide includes dozens of resources around strategies to reduce demand and increase awareness of child sex trafficking.
The Children's Bureau, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, funds the Child Welfare Capacity Building Center for Tribes.