Preventing Sex Trafficking, Supporting Victims
The Imprint is highlighting each of the policy recommendations made this summer by the participants of the Foster Youth Internship Program, a group of 12 former foster youth who have completed congressional internships.
The annual program is overseen by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that raises awareness about the needs of children without families. Each of the participants crafted a policy recommendation during their time in Washington, D.C.
Today we highlight the recommendation from Eunice Mejiadeu, a junior at Howard University.
Mejiadeu offers two solutions for the federal government to improve its support for foster youth who are at risk of or have already been victims of trafficking. One is very targeted: she calls on the executive branch to offer technical assistance for states around conducting effective trafficking screenings.
Her other proposal would impact all foster youth: she suggests that the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act be amended to require that children in foster care are appointed an attorney.
Mejiadeu argues that there are no national standards for how to screen for sex trafficking or define it, and no requirement that youth in foster care have a lawyer with whom they can share things in the strictest of confidentiality. This despite the fact that data from sex trafficking sweeps strongly suggest that a high number of youth who are victims have experienced foster care.
In Their Own Words
“My interaction with the child welfare system began at five years old when I first reported the clear abuse and neglect I had endured at the hands of the men in my life. For each subsequent abuse report, a different case worker arrived equipped with no trauma-informed training and approached visits with various blanket solutions.”