Sex Trafficking and the Child Welfare SystemReports indicate that over 100,000 children and youth are trafficked in the United States annually, many of whom have been in the care of the child welfare system or will enter it at some point in their lives. There is a role for child welfare advocates to become more active in identifying risks children and youth in the foster care system face and ways to engage with other service providers and agencies to ensure that proper safeguards and services are in place to address the needs of victims.

This SPARC brief examines the factors that put children and youth at risk of trafficking and identifies specific populations who are targeted for recruitment by traffickers. The brief also looks at ways in which child welfare providers can identify trafficked children and youth and connect them with the appropriate services they need including housing, medical treatment, mental health services, legal services and other provisions of basic needs. In addition, the brief identifies policy recommendations both at the state and federal level to ensure that trafficking survivors are identified and have access to services and benefits. Finally, the brief examines the recent activity in Congress addressing the issue and highlights states that are taking positive steps to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children and youth.