Responding to Child Victims of Human Trafficking - New York

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State Agency Responsibilities

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 447-b; Fam. Crt. Act § 1055

Every local social services district shall address the child welfare services needs of sexually exploited children and, to the extent that funds are available, ensure that a short-term safe house or another short-term safe placement such as an approved runaway and homeless youth program, an approved respite or crisis program providing crisis intervention or respite services, or a community-based program to serve sexually exploited children is available to children residing in such district. Nothing in this section shall prohibit a local social services district from utilizing existing respite or crisis intervention services as long as the staff members have received appropriate training approved by the Office of Children and Family Services regarding sexually exploited children and the existing programs and facilities provide a safe, secure, and appropriate environment for sexually exploited children.

To the extent possible provided by law, all of the services may be available to all sexually exploited children whether they are accessed voluntarily, as a condition of an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal issued in criminal court, through the diversion services created under § 735 of the Family Court Act, through a proceeding under article 3 or article 10 of the Family Court Act, or through a referral from a local social services agency.

The court may place the child in the custody of a relative or other suitable person pursuant to this article; or of the local commissioner of social services or of such other officer, board, or department as may be authorized to receive children as public charges; or a duly authorized association, agency, society, or institution suitable for the placement of a child. The court also may place a child who it finds to be a sexually exploited child with the local commissioner of social services for placement in an available long-term safe house.

Training Requirement

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 447-b; Exec. Law § 840

The local social services commissioner may, to the extent that funds are available, in conjunction with the Division of Criminal Justice Services and local law enforcement officials, contract with an appropriate not-for-profit agency with experience working with sexually exploited children to train law enforcement officials who are likely to encounter sexually exploited children in the course of their law enforcement duties on the provisions of this section and how to identify and obtain appropriate services for sexually exploited children. Local social services districts may work cooperatively to provide such training, and such training may be provided on a regional basis. The division shall assist local social services districts in obtaining any available funds for the purposes of conducting law enforcement training from the Federal Department of Justice and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

The Municipal Police Training Council may recommend to the governor rules and regulations with respect to the development, maintenance, and dissemination of written policies and procedures regarding the following:

  • Mandatory reporting of child abuse or neglect, reporting procedures and obligations of persons required to report, provisions for taking a child into protective custody, mandatory reporting of deaths, immunity from liability, penalties for failure to report, and obligations for the provision of services and procedures necessary to safeguard the life or health of the child
  • Establishment and implementation on an ongoing basis of a training program for all current and new police officers regarding the policies and procedures established pursuant to this paragraph
  • Establishment of a training program for police officers whose main responsibilities are juveniles and the laws pertaining thereto, which training program shall be successfully completed before such officers are accredited

In addition, the council shall develop, maintain, and disseminate, in consultation with the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and the division, written policies and procedures regarding human trafficking victims. Such policies and procedures shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • The identification of potential victims of human trafficking
  • Information and/or referral to appropriate social and legal services for victims of human trafficking

Diversion From Prosecution

Citation: Fam. Crt. Act §§ 311.4(3); 712; 732; 739

In any proceeding under this article based upon an arrest for an act of prostitution, there is a presumption that the respondent meets the criteria as a victim of a severe form of trafficking as defined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. § 7105). Upon the motion of the respondent, without the consent of the presentment agency, a petition alleging that the respondent is in need of supervision shall be substituted for the delinquency petition.

If, however, the respondent has been previously adjudicated as a juvenile delinquent under this article for an act that would be a crime pursuant to article 230 of the penal law, if the respondent was an adult, or expresses a current unwillingness to cooperate with specialized services for sexually exploited youth, continuing with the delinquency proceeding shall be within the court's discretion. The necessary findings of fact to support the continuation of the delinquency proceeding shall be reduced to writing and made part of the court record.

If, subsequent to issuance of a substitution order under this subdivision and prior to the conclusion of the fact-finding hearing on the petition alleging that the respondent is a person in need of supervision, the respondent is not in substantial compliance with a lawful order of the court, the court may, in its discretion, substitute the original petition alleging that the respondent is a juvenile delinquent for the petition alleging that the respondent is in need of supervision.

A 'person in need of supervision' is a person younger than 18 who appears to be a sexually exploited child but only if the child consents to the filing of a petition under this article.

A proceeding to adjudicate a person to be in need of supervision is originated by the filing of a petition, alleging the following:

  • The respondent has been the victim of sexual exploitation and specifying the acts on which the allegations are based and the time and place they allegedly occurred.
  • The respondent was younger than age 18 at the time of the specified acts.

After the filing of a petition under § 732, the court in its discretion may release the respondent or direct his or her detention. If the respondent may be a sexually exploited child, the court may direct the respondent to an available short-term safe house as an alternative to detention.

Services and Supports for Victims

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 447-a

A 'short-term safe house' is a residential facility operated by an authorized agency, including a residential facility operating as part of a runaway and homeless youth crisis services program or a not-for-profit agency with experience in providing services to sexually exploited youth and approved in accordance with the regulations of the office of children and family services. A short-term safe house provides emergency shelter, services, and care to sexually exploited children, including food, shelter, clothing, medical care, counseling, and appropriate crisis intervention services at the time they are taken into custody by law enforcement and for the duration of any legal proceeding or proceedings in which they are either the complaining witness or the subject child. The short-term safe house also shall also be available at the point in time that a child younger than age 18 has first come into the custody of juvenile detention officials, law enforcement, local jails, or the local commissioner of social services or is residing with the local runaway and homeless youth authority.

A 'safe house' is a residential facility operated by an authorized agency, including a residential facility operating as part of an approved runaway program or a not-for-profit agency with experience in providing services to sexually exploited youth and approved in accordance with the regulations of the office of children and family services that provides shelter for sexually exploited children. A safe house serving sexually exploited children shall provide or assist in securing necessary services for such sexually exploited children, either through direct provision of services or through written agreements with other community and public agencies for the provision of services, including, but not limited to, housing, assessment, case management, medical care, legal, mental health, and substance and alcohol abuse services. Where appropriate, such safe house in accordance with a service plan for such sexually exploited child also may provide counseling and therapeutic services; educational services, including life skills services; and planning services to successfully transition residents back to the community.

A 'community-based program' is a program operated by a not-for-profit organization that provides services such as street outreach, voluntary drop-in services, peer counseling, individual counseling, family-therapy, and referrals for services such as educational and vocational training and health care. Any such community-based program also may work with the safe house serving sexually exploited children to provide transitional services to such children returning to the community.

Support for Anti-Trafficking Efforts

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.