A child welfare response to domestic minor sex trafficking

The State of Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) acknowledges that Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking is an increasing issue in Connecticut afflicting children involved with the child welfare system. Human Trafficking is the 3rd most profitable criminal industry in world generating an estimated thirty-two billion dollars per year (1) and equates to nothing more than modern day slavery. This human rights violation is often considered to occur in other countries conjuring images of women and children in Cambodia, Thailand, etc and while true this crime is occurring in the United States at an alarming rate of growth. The United States Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 found the majority of American victims are enslaved in the sex industry and are majority runaway and homeless youth. The United States Department of Justice further estimated 200,000 American children are potentially trafficked each year into the sex trade.

Nationally 450,000 children run away from home each year. 1 out of every 3 teens on the street will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. Statistically, this means at least 150,000 children lured into prostitution each year with twelve being the average age of entry into pornography and prostitution in the United States (2). Statistics also tells us children who are involved with child welfare services and in the foster care system are at a much higher risk to be recruited into the sex industry markedly via prostitution.

DCF Connecticut has been committed to addressing the issue of trafficking in our borders. Since the increase of collaborative efforts both internally at DCF and externally with the community, there have been eighty-eight children who have been identified and confirmed as victims of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking. Of the victims identified eighty-six have been involved with child welfare services in some manner, many have been victimized while in foster care or residential placement.

DCF Connecticut has put forth tremendous efforts to end the sale of our children. These efforts are further defined in three main categories:


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State of Connecticut Historical Legislative Context:

2004 SB No. 5358 - establishes an interagency task force on trafficking in persons to: collect data on the nature of trafficking in the state and evaluate the state’s progress on trafficking; DCF is appointed.

2006 SB 153 = PA No. 06-43 – establishes the class B felony of trafficking in persons and allows a trafficking victim to bring a civil case to recover penalties, actual damages, and statutory damages.

2007 SB 1500 - establishes that the Office of Victim Services within the Judicial Department shall contract with nongovernmental organizations to develop a coordinated response system to assist victims of trafficking. Primary focus is adult/international victims.

2007 SB 398 = PA No. 07-107 – creates an interagency Trafficking in Persons Council within the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. Primary focus is adult/international victims.

In April of 2008, the DCF Careline received a call from the International Institute of Connecticut in Bridgeport, CT regarding an anticipated police raid on a suspect human trafficking ring. At that time, it was believed that a minor child was present, however, no child was found during the raid. In response to this call, the Division of Multicultural Affairs and DCF Careline collaborated to create a system response for how future suspected cases would be handled moving forward.

In 2009, the DCF Human Trafficking Response Team was created. This team was responsible for creating the DCF Response Protocol, which provided a framework for how cases should be handled during normal operating hours and calls received after regional offices closed.

DCF began its collaboration with the Connecticut Children's Medical Hospital, who becomes the designated Emergency Room for victims in acute situations needing medical and psychiatric assessment.

In 2010, DCF issues Policy 31-10-6.1: INTAKE AND INVESTIGATIVE RESPONSE TO HUMAN TRAFFICKING and Response Protocol are complete.

In 2010, DCF establishes a partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigations in New Haven, CT, given the need for cases to be investigated for a federal crime.

DCF creates a means of tracking cases of Human Trafficking that are reported to the agency. This tracking system provides the number of victims in Connecticut and is able to analyze how many children are repeat victims, which cities have the highest rates of trafficking, victimization while on AWOL status, congregate care setting with multiple victims etc.

DCF creates the ability for the DCF Careline to accept reports of Human Trafficking as child protection cases without the identification of a guardian or entrusted person listed as a perpetrator.

The State of Connecticut has enacted two laws that specifically address children who are exploited via sex trafficking, DCF assisted in the development and advocacy for these changes to occur in order to better address the needs of victims and to be in accordance with the 2008 TVPA:

2010 Public Act 10-115 − “An Act Providing a Safe Harbor for Exploited Children” becomes law. The legislature amends Conn. General Statutes Section 53a-82 to state that a person must be sixteen years of age or older to be guilty of prostitution, and in any prosecution of a person sixteen or seventeen years of age, there shall be a presumption that the actor was coerced into committing such offense by another person.

2011 Public Act 11-180 - The law provides in part that upon the arrest of any youth by an officer for a violation of section 53a-82, such officer shall report suspected abuse or neglect to the Department of Children and Families in accordance with the provisions of sections 17a-101to 17a-101d. Those reports should be made to the DCF Hotline at (800) 842-2288.

In 2011:

DCF established a partnership with the United States District Attorneys Office; as identified cases begin to be prosecuted.

DCF Program Review and Evaluation Unit, who oversees the congregate care facility issues, established a tracking system for victims in care.

DCF allocates more internal resources to address the issues of DMST.

The DCF Human Anti-Trafficking Response Team (HART) is renamed, reorganized and becomes multi-department, multi-agency.

Current Identification and Response Efforts and Initiatives:

The DCF Response Protocol is currently in revision; DCF is in collaboration with its Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) as becoming the primary identification and first responder resource for victims.

Connecticut currently funds fifteen MDT's throughout the state to provide a coordinated interagency approach to enhance the investigation and management of child sexual abuse and serious physical abuse cases. MDTs have been legislated (C.G.S. Sec 17a-106a) and currently exist in almost every judicial district in the state.

DCF is creating a Results Based Accountability framework to begin to track, in a formalized manner the successes and evolution of its efforts.

DCF's collaboration with Connecticut Children's Medical Hospital continues to be defined. DCF adds Yale New Haven Hospital to this effort.

The Assessment and Response Potential Protocol of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking for CPS and Law Enforcement is under development and aims to enhance collaboration between Child Protective Services, Law Enforcement, and Clinical Services (See Addendum 1)

DCF is in collaboration with Yale Law School in the development of best practice interview standards for law enforcement regarding DMST.

DCF is in the development phase of creating a nursing/ medical team to define best practice approaches for nursing staff in congregate care settings, as well as school based health centers.

DCF is in the development of a response team to research best practices for male victims.

DCF currently has three identified male children/youth who have been victims of sex trafficking.


In 2005, the DCF Academy for Families, Workforce Knowledge and Development (DCF Academy) in collaboration with the Division for Multicultural Affairs created a one-day training to address issues regarding Human Trafficking. At that time the focus of the training was mainly on international victims, in accordance with federal mandates.

In 2009, as the number of DMST victims identified in CT increased, the need to expand training became evident; to that end the full day training on DMST was created. Training has been offered monthly since then and has been incorporated into mandatory trainings for DCF staff that respond immediately to reports of abuse and neglect and who work specifically with adolescents. In addition, this training has been open to and attended by community providers working directly with our children in the community and congregate care.

Between 2009-2011: Meetings and trainings were conducted with the State's Chiefs of Police, the State's Juvenile and Adult Judges, Prosecutors and Public Defenders in order to raise awareness of DMST, Public Act 10-115, 2011 Public Act 11-180, and the DCF Response Protocol. This becomes a critical collaboration as these victims are often seen as criminals.

In 2011:

DCF attends various roll call trainings to police departments across the state to provide an informational session on DMST; legislation, DCF protocol, identifiers and approaches.

A second day was added to the DCF Academy's DMST training to address the issue Demand, which creates the supply of children/youth being victimized. This training focuses on providing staff with awareness on issues including, but not limited to: the prevalence and impact of pornography in society, laws and issues of child pornography, predators, sex offenders, internet predators and safety, the impact of social media, the glorification of the pimp culture, and those who buy children/youth via prostitution and pornography.

DCF conducted one hour training sessions for Emergency Medical Response Staff on DMST indicators and approaches including calling any suspected cases trafficking into the DCF Careline.

DCF furthered its collaborative efforts with community providers regarding public awareness of Human Trafficking to schools, teachers, and other community stakeholders.

DCF furthered its collaboration with Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, Inc. (CONNSACS), a statewide coalition of individual sexual assault crisis programs, to include work regarding DMST. DCF is providing ongoing training to Sexual Abuse Crisis

Response responders on the indicators of Human Trafficking and protocol.

DCF in collaboration with the Connecticut Juvenile Training School (CJST), Connecticut’s secure facility for young men who have been adjudicated and committed delinquent and receiving parole services, creates the Man Up: A Youth Series to Transform the Male Perspective of Women and Its Impact on Sexual Exploitation program. (See Addendum 2)

DCF has begun to train foster parents on the issue of DMST.

DCF has provided information and various presentations to raise public awareness at events throughout Connecticut such as: speaking engagements at the University of Connecticut and various high schools.

Current Awareness and Education Efforts and Initiatives:

DCF will expand is current training on trafficking to a Three Day Human Trafficking Certification Training. This training will include the current Day One, which educates participants on the scope of the issue regarding DMST and raised awareness to what is occurring in the United States, with specific emphasis to Connecticut’s children, The Day Two training as outlined above addressing the issue of Demand and perpetrator awareness. To complete the series, the DCF Academy is creating a Day Three of training, which will focus on the addressing the acute trauma victims have been exposed to, educating participants of the use of the Stages of Change Model when working with victims, motivational interviewing skills, working with young men and educating participants on available resources. This series will be available to all a staff (with the consideration of becoming a mandatory training internally) and to community providers.

DCF has created a two-hour training for Connecticut’s Law Enforcement Agencies, this training aims to raise awareness to the scope of the issue, Public Act 10-115, 2011 Public Act 11-180, and to further strengthen the collaboration between child protective services and law enforcement in order to better identify and respond to Connecticut’s children who are being victimized. (See Addendum 3)

DCF Man Up program will begin its formalized roll out on March 2, 2012.

DCF will finalize and create the following training catalog of curriculums to be available to meet the needs of Awareness and Education based on audience and needs: DMST One Hour Training, DMST Two Hour Training, the DCF Academy Three Day Human Trafficking Certification Course, and Supervisory Series by which Area Office staff will be able to request a training per unit that will include DMST identifiers and service referral.

DCF will seek to create a further collaboration with the DCF Office of Foster Care Services and the Connecticut Association of Foster Parents to create training for foster families to raise awareness of DMST, Internet Safety and other topic related content to ensure that foster parents know the dangers and reality of DMST and the high risk our children are in.

DCF in collaboration with various interdepartmental staff as well as community providers will seek to establish a resource guide available to youth online through DCF website.


From 2009-2010, DCF collaborates with internal and external resources to meet clinical needs of victims as they become identified. Research is conducted on various efforts occurring throughout the United States.

In 2010, DCF established a relationship with the Justice Resource Institute (JRI) and Lisa Grace Co-Founder and Director of the My Life, My Choice Program. Through this collaboration, trainings for community and congregate care providers have been offered and attended a training specific to meeting the psychological needs of DMST survivors. This training has been ongoing and offered quarterly.

In 2010, the My Life, My Choice Program, training on DMST Awareness and ten week group curriculum for youth is offered via Love 146, however, funding and resources becomes a barrier

In 2011:

DCF creates the Human Trafficking Clinical Team which includes addressing the needs of identified DMST victims from a trauma informed practice lens.

The DCF Girls' Provider Network, which is a team of public and private providers serving adolescent girls in various levels of care works to expand the availability of the My Life, My Choice program to community and congregate care providers.

DCF furthers its established relationship with the North American Family Institute (NAFI) via the development of two emergency beds for adolescent female victims needing immediate placement.

DCF established a formal collaboration with the Council on Accreditation (COA) to assist in the development of best practice standards responding to

DMST in congregate care, foster care, etc to assist in meeting the needs of our most vulnerable children.

DCF offers specialized case consultation to regional office staff after notification of a possible Human Trafficking Case.

Current Restore and Recovery Efforts and Initiatives:

DCF completed a Request for Proposal (RFP) to create specialized foster homes for victims of DMST; the RFP has been put out for bid for community providers to respond to.

The DCF Clinical Team is in the process of creating Human Trafficking Mentor Services and has recently completed the required credentials of those who would provide this service to victims.

1. ILO, A global alliance against forced labor: 2005.
2. National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Throwaway Children/NISMART-2

Source : https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/dcf/HumanTrafficking/pdf/ResponsetoDomesticMinotSexTraffickingpdf

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