Responding to Child Victims of Human Trafficking - Texas

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State Agency Responsibilities

Citation: Gov't. Code § 772.0063; Fam. Code § 262.011; Hum. Res. Code § 42.0531

The governor shall establish and implement a program to provide comprehensive, individualized services to address the rehabilitation and treatment needs of child victims of trafficking. The governor shall appoint a director of the program to serve at the pleasure of the governor. The director of the program shall coordinate with State and local law enforcement agencies, State agencies, and service providers to identify victims of child sex trafficking who are eligible to receive services under the program.

For each victim of child sex trafficking identified by the director, the program shall immediately facilitate the assignment of a caseworker to the victim to coordinate with local service providers to create a customized package of services to fit the victim's immediate and long-term rehabilitation and treatment needs. Services provided under the program must address all aspects of the medical, psychiatric, psychological, safety, and housing needs of victims.

A court in an emergency, initial, or full adversary hearing conducted under this chapter may order that the child who is the subject of the hearing be placed in a secure agency foster home verified in accordance with § 42.0531, Human Resources Code, if the court finds that both of the following apply:

 

  • The placement is in the best interests of the child.
  • The child's physical health or safety is in danger because the child has been recruited, harbored, transported, provided, or obtained for forced labor or commercial sexual activity, including any child subjected to an act specified in § 20A.02 (trafficking of persons) or § 20A.03 (continuous trafficking of persons), Penal Code.

The commissioners' court of a county or governing body of a municipality may contract with a child-placing agency to verify a secure agency foster home to provide a safe and therapeutic environment tailored to the needs of children who are victims of trafficking.

A child-placing agency may not verify a secure agency foster home to provide services under this section unless the child-placing agency holds a license issued under this chapter that authorizes the agency to provide services to victims of trafficking in accordance with department standards adopted under this chapter for child-placing agencies.

Training Requirement

Citation: Govt. Code §§ 402.035; 22.110; 22.011

The Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force shall do the following:

  • Work with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to develop and conduct training for law enforcement personnel, victim service providers, and medical service providers to identify victims of human trafficking
  • Work with the Texas Education Agency, the Department of Family and Protective Services, and the Health and Human Services Commission to do the following:
    • Develop a list of key indicators that a person is a victim of human trafficking
    • Develop a standardized curriculum and train doctors, nurses, emergency medical services personnel, teachers, school counselors, school administrators, and personnel from the Department of Family and Protective Services and the Health and Human Services Commission to identify and assist victims of human trafficking
    • Develop and conduct training for personnel from the Department of Family and Protective Services and the Health and Human Services Commission on methods for identifying children in foster care who may be at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking
    • Develop a process for referring identified human trafficking victims and individuals at risk of becoming victims to appropriate entities for services
  • On the request of a county court judge, a county attorney, or district attorney, assist and train the judge or the judge's staff or the attorney or the attorney's staff in the recognition and prevention of human trafficking

The court of criminal appeals shall assure that judicial training related to the problems of trafficking of persons and child abuse and neglect is provided. Each judge must complete at least 4 hours of training dedicated to issues related to trafficking of persons and child abuse and neglect within the judge's first term of office. The instruction must include information about the following:

  • Case law, statutory law, and procedural rules relating to trafficking of persons and child abuse and neglect
  • Methods for providing protection for victims of trafficking of persons and child abuse and neglect
  • Dynamics and effects of being a victim of trafficking of persons or child abuse and neglect
  • Issues of child development that pertain to trafficking of persons and child abuse and neglect
  • Medical findings regarding trafficking of persons and child abuse and neglect

The supreme court shall provide judicial training related to the problems of trafficking of persons and child abuse and neglect. The instruction must include information about the following:

  • Case law, statutory law, and procedural rules relating to trafficking of persons and child abuse
  • Methods for providing protection for victims of trafficking of persons or child abuse
  • Dynamics and effects of being a victim of trafficking of persons or child abuse

Diversion From Prosecution

Citation: Fam. Code § 54.0326; Hum. Res. Code § 152.0017

A juvenile court may defer adjudication proceedings under § 54.03 (adjudication of delinquent conduct) until the child's 18th birthday and require a child to participate in a program established under §152.0017, Human Resources Code, if the child is alleged to have engaged in delinquent conduct or conduct indicating a need for supervision and may be a victim of conduct that constitutes an offense under § 20A.02, Penal Code, and presents to the court an oral or written request to participate in the program.

Following a child's completion of the program, the court shall dismiss the case with prejudice at the time the child presents satisfactory evidence that the child successfully completed the program.

A juvenile board may establish a trafficked persons program under this section for the assistance, treatment, and rehabilitation of children who are alleged to have engaged in or adjudicated as having engaged in delinquent conduct or conduct indicating a need for supervision and may be victims of trafficking of persons. A program established under this section must do the following:>/p>

  • If applicable, allow for the integration of services available to a child pursuant to proceedings under title 3, Family Code (juvenile justice code) and subtitle E, title 5, Family Code (child protection and child welfare services)
  • If applicable, allow for the referral to a facility that can address issues associated with human trafficking
  • Require a child participating in the program to periodically appear in court for monitoring and compliance purposes

Services and Supports for Victims

Citation: Hum. Res. Code § 42.0531(c)

A secure agency foster home must provide the following:

  • Mental health and other services specifically designed to assist children who are victims of trafficking, including the following:
    • Victim and family counseling
    • Behavioral health care
    • Treatment and intervention for sexual assault
    • Education tailored to the child's needs
    • Life skills training
    • Mentoring
    • Substance abuse screening and treatment, as needed
  • Individualized services based on the trauma endured by a child, as determined through comprehensive assessments of the service needs of the child
  • Twenty-four-hour services
  • Appropriate security through facility design, hardware, technology, and staffing

Support for Anti-Trafficking Efforts

Citation: Gov't. Code §§ 772.0062; 531.382; 420.008

The governor shall establish the Child Sex Trafficking Prevention Unit within the Criminal Justice Division. The governor shall appoint a director for the unit to serve at the pleasure of the governor. The unit shall do the following:

  • Assist the following agencies in leveraging and coordinating State resources directed toward child sex trafficking prevention:
    • The Office of the Attorney General
    • The Health and Human Services Commission
    • The Department of Family and Protective Services
    • The Texas Juvenile Justice Department
    • The Department of State Health Services
    • The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission
    • The Department of Public Safety
  • Facilitate collaborative efforts among these agencies to do the following:
    • Prevent child sex trafficking
    • Recover victims of child sex trafficking
    • Place victims of child sex trafficking in suitable short-term and long-term housing
  • Collect and analyze research and information in all areas related to child sex trafficking and distribute the research, information, and analyses to the agencies and to relevant nonprofit organizations
  • Refer victims of child sex trafficking to available rehabilitation programs and other resources
  • Provide support for child sex trafficking prosecutions
  • Develop recommendations for improving State efforts to prevent child sex trafficking

The Health and Human Services Commission shall develop and implement a program designed to assist domestic victims, including victims who are children, in accessing necessary services. The program must consist of at least the following components:

  • A searchable database of assistance programs for domestic victims, including programs that provide mental health services, other health services, services to meet victims' basic needs, case management services, and any other services the commission considers appropriate, that may be used to match victims with appropriate resources
  • The grant program described by § 531.383
  • Recommended training programs for judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement personnel
  • An outreach initiative to ensure that victims, judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement personnel are aware of the availability of services through the program

The Sexual Assault Program Fund is a special account in the general revenue fund. The legislature may appropriate money deposited to the fund to the following:

  • The attorney general, for the following:
    • Sexual violence awareness and prevention campaigns
    • Grants to faith-based groups, independent school districts, and community action organizations for programs for the prevention of sexual assault and programs for victims of human trafficking
    • Grants to prevent sex trafficking and to provide services for victims of sex trafficking
  • The Department of State Health Services to measure the prevalence of sexual assault in this State and for grants to support programs assisting victims of human trafficking
  • The Office of the Governor for grants to support sexual assault and human trafficking prosecution projects
  • Any State agency or organization for the purpose of conducting human trafficking enforcement programs