County Teams Gather in Anaheim To Assess First Year of State Program for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children and Plot the Way Forward

December 01, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Elizabeth Laferriere 510.835.8098 x 3005

Anaheim – Multidisciplinary teams from twenty-one counties are convening in Anaheim today, one year after California’s adoption of SB 855, which established the state’s groundbreaking Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) Program. Historically, the majority of CSEC have only accessed critical services through contact with the juvenile justice system. SB 855 and the CSEC Program have begun a shift in California away from criminalization and toward more appropriately treating these children as victims of exploitation through a collaborative approach.

The convening is being organized and led by the California Child Welfare Council’s CSEC Action Team in coordination with the Judicial Council and the California Department of Social Services. More than 200 participants are expected to attend, with foundation leaders, state legislative staff and anti-human trafficking advocates joining the county teams. The CSEC Action Team is Co-Chaired by Secretary Diana Dooley, California Department of Health and Human Services, and Leslie Heimov, Executive Director of the Children’s Law Center of California. Kate Walker Brown and Elizabeth Laferriere of the National Center for Youth Law serve as the CSEC Action Team Director and Assistant Director, respectively.

The county multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) consist of representatives from child welfare, probation, public health, mental health and presiding juvenile judges, all parties statutorily-required to participate in the CSEC Program MDTs. In addition, counties are also sending representatives from education, community-based organizations, children’s attorneys, county counsel, law enforcement, and the district attorney’s office. The teams will share the various cross-agency approaches they have developed and are implementing to identify and serve CSEC. It is anticipated that this dialogue will improve the implementation of the CSEC program going forward.

The conveners will capture the lessons of the gathering along with recommendations in a follow-up briefing paper to be shared with all California counties. The convening is also an opportunity to educate child welfare and probation agencies about new legislation with implications for their interagency protocols. Namely, the convening will cover the federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, HR 4980, whose provisions California will implement through SB 794.

The twenty-one participating counties received enhanced funding under the CSEC Program for the substantial steps they took in the development of their interagency protocols. Their funding ranged from $70,000 to $2.8 million. Thirteen other counties who are at a more preliminary stage in their development of a CSEC program, received smaller planning allocations of $25,000 each and will not be attending this convening.

The convening, which runs from 9:30am to 5:00pm will include sessions on trauma-informed placements for victims, a survivor panel on system engagement and an interactive role play with a multidisciplinary team exploring how to develop a safety plan with victims and each other . The event is being held at the Marriott hotel in Anaheim.