Responding to Child Victims of Human Trafficking - California

Date:

State Agency Responsibilities

Citation: Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 305; 16524.7; 11166(j); County Fiscal Letter No. 16/17-73

Any peace officer may, without a warrant, take into temporary custody a minor when the officer has reasonable cause for believing the minor is a person described in § 300 and, in addition, that the minor has an immediate need for medical care, or the minor is in immediate danger of physical or sexual abuse, or the physical environment or the fact that the child is left unattended poses an immediate threat to the child's health or safety. In cases in which the child is left unattended, the peace officer shall first attempt to contact the child's parent or guardian to determine if the parent or guardian is able to assume custody of the child. If the parent or guardian cannot be contacted, the peace officer shall notify a social worker in the county welfare office.

In order to ensure timely access to services to which commercially sexually exploited children are entitled as dependents in foster care, in participating counties, county agency representatives from mental health, probation, public health, and substance abuse disorders shall participate in the case planning and assist in linking commercially sexually exploited children to services that serve children who are in the child welfare system and that are identified in the child's case plan and may include other stakeholders as determined by the county.

A county probation or welfare department shall immediately, and in no case in more than 24 hours, report to the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the case after receiving information that a child or youth who is receiving child welfare services has been identified as the victim of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE).

When a child or youth who is receiving child welfare services and who is reasonably believed to be the victim of, or is at risk of being the victim of, CSE is missing or has been abducted, the county probation or welfare department shall immediately, or in no case later than 24 hours from receipt of the information, report the incident to the appropriate law enforcement authority for entry into the National Crime Information Center database and to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

In policy: Administrative activities related to children who are identified as victims or at risk of CSE include the following:

  • Developing and implementing policies and procedures for identifying, documenting, and determining services for children and youth who are victims of or at risk of becoming victims of sex trafficking
  • Developing and implementing specific protocols for expeditiously locating and responding to children who run away from foster care, including screening youth for CSE
  • Identifying and determining appropriate services for children and youth who are victims of or at risk of becoming victims of sex trafficking and documenting appropriate services in the child's case plan, including the following:
    • Conducting human trafficking screenings
    • Determining appropriate services and making referrals
    • Completing reports required for law enforcement
  • Expeditiously locating any child or nonminor dependent missing from care, determining the primary factors that contributed to them being absent from care, responding to such identified factors in subsequent placements, determining their experience while absent from care, and determining whether they are a possible victim of CSE

Training Requirement

Citation: Welf. & Inst. Code § 16524.7; Penal Code §§ 236.2; 13519.14; Educ. Code § 51950

The Department of Social Services shall contract to provide training for county workers and foster caregivers.

Training shall be selected and contracted for in consultation with the County Welfare Directors Association, county children's services representatives, and other stakeholders. The department shall consult and collaborate with the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office to provide training for foster parents of licensed foster family homes.

Law enforcement agencies shall use due diligence to identify all victims of human trafficking, regardless of the citizenship of the person. When a peace officer comes into contact with a minor who has engaged in a commercial sex act, the peace officer shall consider whether the following indicators of human trafficking are present:

  • There are signs of trauma, fatigue, injury, or other evidence of poor care.
  • The person is withdrawn, afraid to talk, or his or her communication is censored by another person.
  • The person does not have freedom of movement.
  • The person lives and works in one place.
  • The person owes a debt to his or her employer.
  • Security measures are used to control who has contact with the person.
  • The person does not have control over his or her own government-issued identification or over his or her worker immigration documents.

The Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training shall implement a course or courses of instruction for the training of law enforcement officers in California in the handling of human trafficking complaints and also shall develop guidelines for law enforcement response to human trafficking. The course or courses of instruction and the guidelines shall stress the following:

  • The dynamics and manifestations of human trafficking
  • Identifying and communicating with victims
  • Providing documentation that satisfies the law enforcement agency endorsement required by Federal law
  • Collaboration with Federal law enforcement officials
  • Therapeutically appropriate investigative techniques
  • The availability of civil and immigration remedies and community resources
  • Protection of the victim

Where appropriate, the training presenters shall include human trafficking experts with experience in the delivery of direct services to victims of human trafficking. Completion of the course may be satisfied by telecommunication, video training tape, or other instruction.

Every law enforcement officer who is assigned field or investigative duties shall complete a minimum of 2 hours of training within 6 months of being assigned to that position.

Continuation training shall be available and conducted periodically to enable school district personnel to learn about new developments in the understanding of abuse, including sexual abuse and human trafficking, and to receive instruction on current prevention efforts and methods. A school district is encouraged to include training on early identification of abuse, including sexual abuse and human trafficking of pupils and other minors.

Diversion From Prosecution

Citation: Penal Code §§ 647; 236.23

An individual who solicits, agrees to engage in, or who engages in any act of prostitution with the intent to receive compensation, money, or anything of value from another person is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.

An individual who solicits, who agrees to engage in, or who engages in any act of prostitution with another person who is a minor in exchange for the individual providing compensation, money, or anything of value to the minor is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.

This subdivision does not apply to a child younger than age 18 who is alleged to have engaged in conduct to receive money or other consideration that would, if committed by an adult, violate this subdivision. A commercially exploited child under this paragraph may be adjudged a dependent child of the court pursuant to § 300(b)(2) of the Welfare and Institutions Code and may be taken into temporary custody pursuant to § 305(a) of the Welfare and Institutions Code, if the conditions allowing temporary custody without warrant are met.

In addition to any other affirmative defense, it is a defense to a charge of a crime that the person was coerced to commit the offense as a direct result of being a human trafficking victim at the time of the offense and had a reasonable fear of harm.

If, in a proceeding pursuant to § 602 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, the juvenile court finds that the offense on which the proceeding is based was committed as a direct result of the minor being a human trafficking victim, and the affirmative defense is established by a preponderance of the evidence, the court shall dismiss the proceeding and order the relief prescribed in § 786 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.

Services and Supports for Victims

Citation: Welf. & Inst. Code § 300.2; County Fiscal Letter No. 16/17-73

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the purpose of the provisions of this chapter relating to dependent children is to provide maximum safety and protection for children who are currently being physically, sexually, or emotionally abused, neglected, or exploited and to ensure the safety, protection, and physical and emotional well-being of children who are at risk of that harm. This safety, protection, and physical and emotional well-being may include provision of a full array of social and health services to help the child and family and to prevent reabuse of children. The focus shall be on the preservation of the family as well as the safety, protection, and physical and emotional well-being of the child.

In policy: The individual child's case plan shall be the basic guideline for the provisions of the child welfare services. Activities include direct delivery of services to commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC) and youth at risk of being trafficked associated with the CSEC program. This also may include training foster children to help recognize and avoid CSE; engaging survivors of CSE to provide support to county staff who service children who are victims of CSE to children who are victims of CSE; and consulting and coordinating with homeless youth shelters and other service providers who work with children who are disproportionately at risk of, or involved in, CSE, including but not limited to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth organizations, regarding outreach and support to children who are victims of CSE; and the hiring of trained and specialized county staff to support victims, their caregivers, and the interagency and cross-departmental response pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code § 16524.7(a)(4)(D).

Additional specialized prevention and intervention services for children of this population can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Specialized counseling
  • Tattoo removal
  • Seeking and obtaining specialized housing
  • Emergency housing/shelter assistance (for example, vouchers; rental or utility deposits; furniture, such as beds, couches, dressers, lighting, refrigerators, and other necessary furniture for the health and safety of CSEC youth and their families)
  • Addressing gang affiliation
  • Reproductive health education/healthy relationships education
  • Legal assistance
  • Pregnancy/parenting services
  • Financial education training
  • Vocational, life skills, and other identified CSEC trainings
  • Stipends for participating in identified trainings

Support for Anti-Trafficking Efforts

Citation: Welf. & Inst. Code § 16524.7; Gov't. Code § 8590.7

There is hereby established the Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Program. This program shall be administered by the State Department of Social Services.

The department, in consultation with the County Welfare Directors Association of California, shall develop an allocation methodology to distribute funding for the program. Funds shall be utilized to cover expenditures related to the costs of implementing the program, prevention and intervention services, and training related to children who are or may become victims of CSE.

Funds shall be provided to counties that elect to participate in the program for the provision of training to county children's services workers to identify, intervene, and provide case management services to children who are victims of CSE and trafficking, as applicable, and to foster caregivers for the prevention and identification of potential victims.

Funds provided to the counties electing to participate in the program shall be used for prevention activities, including training county workers, intervention activities, and services to children who are victims, or at risk of becoming victims, of CSE. These activities and services may include, but are not limited to, all of the following:

  • Educating foster children to help recognize and help avoid CSE; which educational activities may target foster children who are at higher risk of CSE
  • Engaging survivors of CSE to do all of the following:
    • Provide support to county staff who serve children who are victims of CSE
    • Participate in activities that may include education, training, and technical assistance
    • Serve as advocates for and perform outreach and support to children who are victims of CSE
  • Consulting and coordinating with homeless youth shelters and other service providers who work with children who are disproportionately at risk of, or involved in, CSE, including, but not limited to, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth organizations, regarding outreach and support to children who are victims of CSE
  • Hiring county staff trained and specialized to work with children who are victims of CSE to support victims and their caregivers and to provide case management to support interagency and cross-departmental response
  • Providing supplemental foster care rates for placement of child victims of CSE to foster homes, relatives, homes certified by the foster family agency, or other specialized placements for the increased care and supervision needs of the victim

There is hereby created in the State treasury the Human Trafficking Victims Assistance Fund. Monies in the fund, including any interest earned, shall only be expended to support programs for victims of human trafficking. The office shall do all of the following:

  • Be responsible for overseeing the grant program
  • Award grants based on the following:
    • The capability of the qualified nonprofit organization to provide comprehensive services
    • The stated goals and objectives of the qualified nonprofit organization
    • The number of people to be served and the needs of the community
    • Evidence of community support
    • Other criteria the office deems appropriate that is consistent with the requirements of this paragraph
  • Publish deadlines and written procedures for qualified nonprofit organizations to apply for the grants