Responding to Child Victims of Human Trafficking - Wisconsin

Date: December 2018

State Agency Responsibilities

Citation: CPS Access & Init. Assessment Stds.

The child protective services (CPS) agency must notify law enforcement within 12 hours in cases of alleged sexual abuse, including cases of alleged sex trafficking.

In cases where reported information suggests that a child has injuries due to maltreatment or in cases of suspected or threatened sexual abuse, including cases of suspected sex trafficking, CPS must collaborate with law enforcement.

CPS agencies have discretion in investigating reports of alleged child maltreatment by a person who is not a caregiver, except in cases of alleged sex trafficking of a child.

In the following circumstances a diligent investigation is warranted in order to ensure that the child is safe and has access to services, including placement if needed:

  • The child self-reports being a victim of trafficking.
  • The child self-reports 'consensually' participating in a sexual act, (otherwise known as survival sex) in exchange for shelter, food, drugs and/or alcohol or money.
  • Law enforcement confirms through an investigation that the child has been trafficked.

Additionally, an investigation will gather information to determine if there is parental involvement.

The dynamics of child sex trafficking require assessment and evaluation of danger threats in the context of the child rather than the family. Therefore, one must think globally when assessing for 'present danger threats' in cases of alleged child sex trafficking, regardless of the caregiving role of the alleged maltreater. These 'present danger threats to child safety' types of reports require an immediate to within the same day response time.

Training Requirement

Citation: DCF Memo # 2017-07

CPS staff and supervisors responsible for initial assessment functions will be expected to participate in the sex trafficking training, developed by Wisconsin Child Welfare Professional Development System in collaboration with the Wisconsin Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force Training workgroup. This sex trafficking training will be made available to all child welfare and youth justice workers, as well.

Diversion From Prosecution

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 944.30; 973.015

If the person who committed an act of prostitution has not reached age 18, the court may enter a consent decree under § 938.32 or a deferred prosecution agreement in accordance with § 938.245, 971.39, or 971.40, if the court determines that the best interests of the person are served and society will not be harmed.

At any time after a person has been convicted or adjudicated delinquent for a violation of § 944.30 (prostitution), a court may, upon the motion of the person, vacate the conviction or adjudication or may order that the record of the violation of § 944.30 be expunged, if all of the following apply:

  • The person was a victim of trafficking for the purposes of a commercial sex act.
  • The person committed the violation of § 944.30 as a result of being a victim of trafficking for the purposes of a commercial sex act.
  • The person submitted a motion that complies with § 971.30 that contains a statement of facts and, if applicable, the reason the person did not previously raise an affirmative defense under § 939.46 or allege that the violation was committed as a result of being a victim of trafficking for the purposes of a commercial sex act.
  • The person made the motion with due diligence subject to reasonable concern for the safety of himself or herself, family members, or other victims of sex trafficking or subject to other reasons consistent with the safety of persons.
  • A copy of the motion has been served on the office of the district attorney that prosecuted the case that resulted in the conviction, adjudication, or finding except that failure to serve a copy does not deprive the court of jurisdiction and is not grounds for dismissal of the motion.
  • The court in which the motion was made notified the appropriate district attorney's office of the motion and has given the district attorney's office an opportunity to respond to the motion.
  • The court determines that the person will benefit and society will not be harmed by a disposition.

Services and Supports for Victims

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.48(19)

The Department of Children and Families shall have the authority to purchase or provide treatment and services for children who are the victims of trafficking, as defined in § 940.302(1)(d), for purposes of a commercial sex act. Within the availability of funding under § 20.437(1)(e), the department shall ensure that that treatment and those services are available to children in all geographic areas of the State, including both urban and rural communities.

Support for Anti-Trafficking Efforts

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 20.437

There is appropriated to the Department of Children and Families funding for treatment and services for sex trafficking victims under § 48.48(19).