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National Human Trafficking Prevention Month

National Human Trafficking Prevention Month

January is human trafficking prevention month created to raise awareness of the problem of human trafficking in the US and to engage us all in the fight against it. According to Hope for Justice (an organization dedicated to ending human trafficking around the globe), there are currently more than 1 million human trafficking victims in the US. As a mother of increasingly independent tweens and teens and a former child welfare caseworker, that number terrifies me. However, I know that my children have a solid support system with parents, grandparents and siblings who are engaged in their lives and always looking out for them. Stability and support go a long way towards keeping them safe.

 

Sadly, children in foster care don’t always have the same stability or sense of belonging. Nearly 1/3 of youth in foster care will runaway from their foster home. The average age of these missing youth is just 15.40% of youth aging out of foster care will be homeless as young adults. Youth missing from foster care and those young adults leaving the system are particularly vulnerable to human traffickers.

 

Child welfare agencies at all levels of government are working to address the systematic issues that make foster care children so vulnerable. Placement with kin, listening to young people with lived experience, and creating a system that prioritizes the need for all children and youth to have a safe, stable, and loving home is critical. And while that work continues, we also need to address the very real human trafficking concern.There has been increased and relentless focus on finding and prosecuting human traffickers. In the last decade the number of human traffickers brought to justice each year has more than doubled. When I worked at DHS in AlleghenyCounty, I witnessed a group of investigators dedicate their career to finding missing youth and build a case against those perpetrators of human trafficking.Their efforts are admirable, and we all need to continue to educate ourselveson the ways we can help by looking for signs of human trafficking and supporting victims.

 

Those of us in the human services technology field try everyday to find ways that create solutions that help agencies work smarter andincrease the positive impact on the communities they serve. I am proud that Augintel can do its part to support this critical work. Recently, a CSEC (commercial sexual exploitation of children) Case Manager told me, “This system is crucial for unknown information, and excellent for investigative research and building acase.  The Augintel system helps fill in many cracks when building aninvestigation in hopes of furthering a case for child sexual exploitation.”

 

There is so much more to be done. Augintel will continue to look for ways that our tool can surface information to help locate missing youth and build a case against those that harm them. I challenge all my Human Services IT Advisory Group (HSITAG) colleagues to do the same. All of us should be asking ourselves “how can we help solve the human trafficking problem?” It will take all of us. I would love to hear your thoughts!