Responding to Child Victims of Human Trafficking - Pennsylvania

Date: December 2018

State Agency Responsibilities

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, §§ 5702; 6382; Tit. 42, § 6328

A county agency shall report to law enforcement as soon as practicable, but in no case later than 24 hours after receiving the following information:

  • The county agency has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is at risk of being a sex trafficking victim.
  • The county agency identifies a child as being a sex trafficking victim.

A county agency shall report to law enforcement and to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as soon as practicable but no later than 24 hours after receiving information about a child who is missing from the child's residence or is abducted.

The county agency shall be the sole civil agency responsible for receiving and investigating all reports of child abuse made pursuant to this chapter, specifically including, but not limited to, reports of child abuse in facilities operated by the department and other public agencies, for the purpose of providing protective services to prevent further abuses to children and to provide or arrange for and monitor the provision of those services necessary to safeguard and ensure the well-being and development of the child and to preserve and stabilize family life wherever appropriate.

An agency charged with investigating a report of child abuse may rely on a factual investigation of substantially the same allegations by a law enforcement agency to support the agency's finding. This reliance shall not, however, limit the duty to investigate reports. Each county agency shall implement a State-approved risk assessment process in performance of its duties under this subchapter.

The offenses listed below shall be referred to a county agency if the offense:

  • Is committed by a child as a direct result of being a sexually exploited child
  • Is directly related to having been subject to human trafficking

Eligible offenses for referral to a county agency include the following:

  • Criminal trespass
  • Presenting false identification to law enforcement authorities
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Loitering and prowling at night time
  • Possession of a controlled substance

If an offense listed above is referred to a county agency, delinquency proceedings under chapter 63 may not be commenced immediately. If treatment and social services are unsuccessful while the dependency petition is pending, as evidenced by the child's behavior, and the county agency believes that juvenile justice services are necessary and warranted, the county agency shall refer the child's case to the juvenile probation department or district attorney's office for the commencement of delinquency proceedings.

Training Requirement

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 18, § 3063

The Municipal Police Officers' Education and Training Commission and the Pennsylvania State Police shall provide training to appropriate law enforcement officers. The training shall include the following:

  • Methods used to identify a sexually exploited child
  • Methods used to interview and engage with a sexually exploited child
  • Methods to assist victims in accessing specialized programs and services for a sexually exploited child
  • Methods to minimize trauma in the detention of a sexually exploited child

Diversion From Prosecution

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 18, § 3065

If it is determined by a law enforcement officer, after reasonable detention for investigative purposes, that an individual is younger than age 18 and is determined to be a sexually exploited child, the individual shall be immune from the following:

  • Prosecution or adjudication as a delinquent child for a violation of §§ 5507 (relating to obstructing highways and other public passages) and 5902(a) (relating to prostitution and related offenses)
  • Revocation of an existing term of probation or parole arising from a conviction or adjudication for another offense, if the revocation is based on conduct described above

The safe harbor immunity described above shall not do the following:

  • Interfere with or prevent an investigation, arrest, charge, prosecution, delinquency adjudication, or revocation for violations other than a violation of §§ 5507 and 5902(a)
  • Bar the admission of evidence in connection with the investigation and prosecution for a violation other than a violation of §§ 5507 and 5902(a)
  • Bar the admission of evidence in connection with an investigation and prosecution of an individual who does not qualify for safe harbor as provided under this section

An individual determined to be a sexually exploited child shall be detained no longer than necessary and only to assist the child in securing specialized services available under § 3062 (relating to specialized services for sexually exploited children) or to refer the child to a county agency if required under tit. 42, § 6328 (relating to dependency in lieu of delinquency).

In addition to any other immunity or limitation on civil liability, a law enforcement officer or prosecuting attorney who, acting in good faith, investigates, detains, charges, or institutes delinquency proceedings against an individual who is thereafter determined to be entitled to immunity under this section shall not be subject to civil liability for the actions.

Services and Supports for Victims

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 18, §§ 3061; 3062

The Department of Human Services shall develop a statewide protocol to efficiently and effectively coordinate the provision of specialized services to sexually exploited children. The department shall, in conjunction with county agencies, do the following:

  • Develop and provide specialized programs and services for sexually exploited children that address a victim's needs, including the following:
    • Safe and stable housing
    • Access to education
    • Employment and life skills training
    • Comprehensive case management
    • Physical and behavioral health care, including trauma therapy
    • Treatment for drug or alcohol dependency
    • Medical and dental care
    • Access to personal care items and adequate clothing
    • Other needs that sexually exploited children may have as determined by the department or the county agencies
  • Ensure that providers of the specialized programs and services receive sufficient training and understand the unique circumstances surrounding the victimization of sexually exploited children

Support for Anti-Trafficking Efforts

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 18, §§ 3031; 3064

Subject to the availability of funds, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency shall make grants to State agencies, units of local government, and nongovernmental organizations to do the following:

  • Develop, expand, or strengthen programs for victims of human trafficking, including the following programs:
    • Health services, including mental health services
    • Temporary and permanent housing placement
    • Legal and immigration services
    • Employment placement, education, and training
  • Ensure prevention of human trafficking, including increasing public awareness
  • Ensure protection of victims of human trafficking, including training of first responders

The Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund is established in the State Treasury and shall be administered by the Department of Human Services. Appropriations for transfers to the fund and fines paid by persons convicted of trafficking offenses and interest accrued on the fines collected shall be deposited into the fund.

In addition to money that may be appropriated by the general assembly, the department may apply for and expend Federal grants and contributions from other public, quasi-public, or private sources to assist in implementing this subchapter.

Money in the fund shall be used as follows:

  • At least 50 percent of the fund may be expended by the department to provide victim services, either directly by the department or through grants.
  • At least 40 percent of the fund may be expended to increase public awareness through an anti-demand campaign.
  • No more than 10 percent of the fund may be expended by the department for the costs of operating and maintaining the fund.