Bill Hearing Tomorrow
This week is Sexually Exploited Minors (SEM) Awareness Week in Alameda County, California, a week dedicated to raising awareness and inspiring action against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC). In the spirit of action and awareness, we would like to bring your attention to a bill that is set for hearing before California’s State Senate Human Services Committee in Sacramento tomorrow, April 23rd.
Senator Leland Yee introduced Senate Bill 738 (SB 738) to develop a state action plan to provide new protections and services to sexually exploited and trafficked minors. The bill was spurred, in part, by the Child Welfare Council’s (CWC) report, Ending the Commercial Exploitation of Children: A Call for Multi-System Collaboration in California, written by Kate Walker, an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL). The bill would require the California Health and Human Services Agency to convene an interagency workgroup to develop a comprehensive statewide plan to Serve and Protect Sexually Exploited and Trafficked Minors. The work group would submit the State Plan to the Legislature, Judicial Council and Governor by January 30, 2015. The bill would also require the CWC to provide recommendations and updates for the State Plan on an ongoing basis.
The bill would also clarify the jurisdiction of the juvenile court in dependency proceedings to authorize taking custody of a child who is a victim of human trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation. Under existing state law, a child may become a dependent of the court in a limited range of cases, including “when the child is abused, a parent or guardian fails to adequately supervise or protect the child, . . . or a parent or guardian fails to provide the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment.” See Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 300. Senate Bill 738 would specifically include sexually exploited and trafficked children within the scope of the juvenile court’s jurisdiction.
The bill would also require specific training for caregivers on providing adequate care to sexually exploited youth. Under existing state law, caregivers of foster children in out-of-home placements are required to go through mandated training and licensing procedures. These caregivers include administrators of group home facilities, licensed foster parents, and relative or nonrelative extended family member caregivers. Senate Bill 738 expands training to include “instruction on cultural competency and sensitivity relating to, and best practices for, providing adequate care to a sexually exploited and trafficked minor in out-of-home care.”
CWC report author, Kate Walker, believes “SB 738 represents an important first step for child victims of human trafficking in California. SB 738 will clarify child welfare law to ensure that minor victims of sex and labor trafficking fall under the jurisdiction of the child welfare system. Thus, these children will be treated like victims rather than criminals, and will have access to supports and services from the system that was designed to serve abused and neglected children and their families.”
Young Minds supports Senate Bill 738 and will be at tomorrow’s hearing to show our support. The bill is a promising step forward towards creating interagency collaboration to support and protect CSEC victims who studies have found, are often involved (or were involved) with the child welfare system.
Please join YMAP in supporting SEM Awareness Week by attending one of the many great events going on in Alameda County this week (event info. from H.E.A.T. Watch ):
H.E.A.T. Watch, Oakland Police Department, Oakland Unified School District Police Department and MISSSEY will join the Oakland Youth Commission to discuss the need for human trafficking prevention education in Oakland Schools. Oakland City Hall; 5-7pm.
MISSSEY Community Open House. All members from the community are welcome to come tour MISSSEY and meet and greet staff. 436 14th St., Ste. 1201, Oakland, CA 94612; 9-12pm.
DreamCatcher will be hosting this year’s Open Mic in partnership with MISSSEY. Location/Time TBA. Contact Sarai at DreamCatcher’s for more information: 510-522-8363 (main number).
Picnic fundraiser for MISSSEY. Location/Time TBA. Contact Sarai at DreamCatcher’s for more information: 510-522-8363 (main number).