On January 27, 2023, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) hosted a national briefing to provide awareness regarding resources to assist states, organizations, and child welfare workers in responding to concerns of child trafficking. The briefing reviewed the Information Memorandum released on December 1, 2022 by the ACF in preparation for National Human Trafficking Prevention Month in January, which provides supportive guidance related to federal statutory requirements regarding human trafficking among children and youth in the child welfare system.

 Assistant Secretary of ACF January Contreras kicked off the briefing by addressing child trafficking as a pressing public health issue that affects communities and families across generations. Contreras emphasized the considerable efforts that the ACF has seen across agencies to support and identify children and youth: “I’m very proud that ACF offices are really working together to tackle issues and be the best partners we can be for all of you out there. We recognize that this takes all of us working across systems. We cannot do this alone.” The theme for ACF this month is “Partner to Prevent,” which further highlights the power of partnerships in preventing trafficking.

Additional panelists included Carolyn Hightower (Deputy Director of the Office on Trafficking in Persons), Cheri Hoffman (Deputy Commissioner of Administration on Children, Youth, and Families), Aysha E. Schomburg (Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau), and Kimberly Waller (Associate Commissioner of the Family and Youth Services Bureau). All panelists pointed to the ongoing efforts of their departments to minimize the sexual exploitation of youth in care and the utilization of the National Runaway Safeline.

The briefing collectively emphasized that not only is it important to partner directly with families, but also with other fields and systems to address trafficking holistically, since it is an intersectional issue. ACF is committed to ongoing support for states and welcomes ongoing partnership and innovation in responding to trafficking. Building a multidisciplinary, trauma-informed response to trafficking must include collaborative communities who are willing to listen to firsthand experiences of survivors and work together in the fight against child trafficking.

By Erin Weiss, Policy Intern