Children’s attorneys, guardians ad litem and CASA’s are largely untapped resources that can be better utilized to assist trafficked children. Appropriate placements and the inclusion of survivor mentors are critically important.
WASHINGTON, DC, May 12, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — First Star Institute released its report of interviews with personnel working in multi-agency collaborations to combat child sex trafficking. As a national committee has noted, child sex trafficking is one of the most complex and least understood forms of child abuse. Despite new laws over the last ten years, the country struggles to identify, prevent and support children and youth who have been or are at risk of being sex trafficked, especially those who are already in the child welfare system. Children with prior or current involvement with the child welfare system who are known to be at much higher risk for sexual exploitation than other children.
The First Star Institute report confirms the need for collaborative approaches across systems such as criminal delinquency and child welfare courts, social services and legal services. As one interviewee stated, “We have come to the conclusion that unless we work together, we really are not going to be able to get anywhere.” Specialized courts, multi-disciplinary teams, well-trained, dedicated and consistent staff are all important. The report highlights children’s attorneys, guardians ad litem and/or CASA’s as largely untapped resources that can be better utilized to assist trafficked children. Most states guarantee legal representation of children in the child welfare system – attorneys who may provide best interests representation as guardians ad litem. Many states also permit lay volunteers such as CASAs to play a role.
The FSI Report also underscores the critical need for placements appropriate to trafficked youth, with caregivers and all who work with these youth understanding how trauma has affected these young individuals. In addition, being able to engage with trafficked children and youth in a meaningful way is critical to success. Including trafficking survivors as mentors was cited time and again as important.
The full survey, Advancing Collaboration to Respond to Child Sex Trafficking – Attorneys for Children, Guardians ad Litem and Court Appointed Special Advocates as a Key Resource.is available at https://www.firststarinstitute.org/sexual-abuse. Questions about the survey can be addressed to [email protected].
The Institute envisions a world where abused and neglected children have the support and the tools to address chronic undereducation, unemployment and homelessness. The Institute’s programs improve the lives of abused and neglected children by supporting best practices in education, research and the law.
First Star Institute was founded on December 15, 2015 to promote best practices serving abused and neglected children in education, research and the law, and to continue the policy programs previously conducted by First Star. First Star is a national 501(c)(3) public charity dedicated to improving life for child victims of abuse and neglect. Since 2011 First Star pioneered support programs to launch foster children into productive lives and careers. In 2016, the growth and diversity of First Star’s programs required two entities with separately focused governance, and the historical First Star policy work was transferred to First Star Institute. The amicable relationship between the two organizations builds on First Star’s success, and the two entities share a common lineage.
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