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Helping Foster Kids Who Fall Victim to Sex Trafficking

  • Published on
    February 27, 2018
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Child Slavery, Human Trafficking, Rehabilitation & Liberation
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The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) says it is stepping up its efforts to help foster kids who are victims of sex trafficking.

It has trained over 2,000 child welfare workers to understand the indicators of child trafficking, and it has helped over two dozen youth in the state of Oregon in just a matter of months.

DHS says that traffickers target foster kids in particular because they are seen as vulnerable.

Fox 12 Oregon reports:

“We have kids who go off the radar, they go missing, or runaway,” Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Coordinator Elizabeth Alston said. “Because this issue is so mobile, we really want to talk about where kids are, who they are with and what they are doing. It’s incredibly important to have good procedure in place.”

Last year, Alston and others at the Washington County Office developed a new screening tool embedded within the state’s data system that structures how case workers question a child during routine visits. It’s essentially a checklist of indicators a youth may be trafficked.

Alston said they’ve also implemented a new response to when a child goes missing.

All teens identified as a runaway are now also screened for possible victimization upon their return home.

Natasha Halstvevt is one such case worker who has been trained on child trafficking.

“Things like multiple cell phones, children having a lot of money a lot of times that’s the typical behavior for a teen that is stealing,” she said. “I as a caseworker didn’t think it was connected to trafficking. So, when we had that training it opened my eyes and it really gave me an understanding.”

Caseworkers can now mark on a screening tool if they suspect that a foster child has been trafficked. In doing so, the case gets cross reported to law enforcement.

“Already, I’ve seen a greater number of tips than what I’ve ever received on the DHS side,”said Detective Chad Opitz. “Before, a lot of times you didn’t find out unless there was already a case of abuse, or neglect. Now, they’re looking for trafficking specifically.”


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6 years ago

I hope they are also looking at the foster homes as perpetrators of trafficking. I’ve seen it plenty.

6 years ago

We all know that human trafficking and slavery in one from or other exists today but most people think that it can not happen here but that why it not normally looked for and a big mistake so it good were seeming some action

Dennis morrison
Dennis morrison
6 years ago

End human trafficking now before it is to late

6 years ago

Children are routinely taken away from their parents and put in even more dangerous situations. The system that is supposed to protect children actually endangers them .It is like going into the frying pan and into the fire. The child protection industry is nothing more than another business that profits off of witch hunts and traumatizing children and adults.

Tara Aricha
6 years ago

It starts with education. You can’t do something you don’t know about. I pray more people are educated about this topic( law enforcement, school staff, youth Pastors, parents, etc) so we can prevent more people from becoming victims of human trafficking.

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