On Wednesday and Thursday of last week, the Department of Health and Human Services along with the White House coordinated a convening of states to help address the implementation of last year’s Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act.

In announcing the event, the National Convening on Trafficking and Child Welfare , the White House statement said “ the mandates represent significant new requirements for State child welfare agencies, and effective implementation will require interagency and cross-systems partnerships to successfully provide services for the prevention and protection of children and youth who are at-risk of or are victims of sex trafficking.”

Attendees included representatives from Court Improvement Program (CIP) grantees (funded under Title IV-B part 2) judges, state child welfare directors and representatives from law enforcement.

A similar event was arranged four years ago to deal with education requirements under the Fostering Connections to Success Act.  Over the two days representatives worked together in small state groups to develop an action plan that will be put in place in their state to address the new mandates. As part of the event attendees were to receive information on best practices from the anti-trafficking field, including specific examples from state and local entities that have been engaged in the work and have experienced success in their efforts.

HHS indicated that “the national convening represents only the beginning of the work to implement the new mandates put in place by the Act, and it is recognized that State teams may need additional supports and assistance as they continue to develop and implement their plans in the coming months. As such, we will also provide the opportunity for States to indicate any anticipated technical assistance needs for their future work.”

Not coincidentally June 12 was World Day Against Child Labor focusing attention across the world on forced child labor whereby estimates are that up to 150 million boys and girls are involved in a range of forced labor activities.