Housing solutions are key component of bill providing protections for foster youth victims of trafficking

Victims of human trafficking tend to be the most vulnerable members of society. Sadly, kids in the child welfare system are especially targeted by traffickers, according to a report from First Focus and the State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center.

According to the report, anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of child victims of sex trafficking were once involved with child welfare services.

The circumstances that led to these children being placed in foster care in the first place are usually the same ones traffickers exploit to coerce them into their custody, according to a brief by the U.S. Children’s Bureau. Traffickers perniciously use young people’s need for family and stable relationships to gain their trust, before subjecting their victims to the violence of sex trafficking.

Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill (H.R. 2200) that would add new provisions to protect youth in the foster care system and other vulnerable populations from human trafficking. The legislation’s primary champion was Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), who co-chairs the Congressional Caucus of Foster Youth.

The provisions ensure funding for programs specifically designed for youth trafficking victims who were in the child welfare system. Programs funded under this legislation are intended to focus on providing long-term housing solutions and trauma-informed care for these young people.

This is a critical first step toward disrupting the pipeline of victims and providing care for those who were traumatized by these experiences. The effects of human exploitation extend well beyond childhood. It is essential that the U.S. Senate act quickly to pass this bill, and protect every child in foster care from the horrors of human trafficking.