Federal Bureaus Co-host Webinar on Human Trafficking and Runaway and Homeless Youth
The Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) partnered with the Children’s Bureau this winter to co-host a webinar educating federal employees on the impact of human trafficking on runaway and homeless youth. The January 26 event, held during National Human Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Month, shared the experiences and challenges of three community organizations working to identify and serve trafficked young people within their runaway and homeless youth programs.
In their decades offering shelter and case management services, YouthCare in Seattle, Covenant House New York, and Kansas-based Wichita Children’s Home have all identified youth who have been victims of human trafficking—often in the form of commercial sexual exploitation. Knowing just how many trafficked young people walk through their doors has presented a serious challenge, however, leading all three agencies to participate in research studies to clarify the scope of the problem and measure what services are making a difference.
Participants from across the Administration on Children, Youth and Families heard about panelists’ revised approaches to helping trafficked youth throughout the years, including services they’ve adapted to better prevent youth from engaging in continued trafficking. Covenant House, for example, recently dedicated a department to work specifically with trafficked residents sheltered in its nine-resident safe home. Those caseworkers spend dedicated time with youth to provide a continued source of support. They also administer a small stipend to help residents offset living expenses and gain a sense of control over their finances.
Additionally, the panelists agreed that all runaway and homeless youth face a heightened risk of being trafficked compared to their peers, often because of their need to exchange sex for food, shelter, and protection. Programs should continue engaging young people in available services and “showing them you care,” they say, to build the sense of security and empowerment that can help prevent future trafficking.