Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-06) praised last night's Senate passage of The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, which passed the House of Representatives in July. H.R. 4980, seeks to prevent child sex trafficking, focusing specifically on at-risk youth in the foster care system.
"The numbers are staggering--studies suggest a majority of trafficked children are either currently in the foster care system or have previously been in the child welfare system," said Roskam. "In the best of circumstances these kids face incredible adversity, and in the worst circumstances a pattern of childhood abuse makes them incredibly vulnerable to falling into the hands of human traffickers. This legislation, now on its way to the president's desk, is focused on identifying and protecting those most at risk."
"While we are tackling the crime of sex trafficking here in Illinois more aggressively than ever before, it is crucial that we provide additional protections and preventive resources for our most vulnerable children before they can be recruited or seduced into this cruel and demeaning cycle of violence," said Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez. "I commend Congressman Roskam for his leadership on this important bill and for working closely with local prosecutors to ensure that important resources are being directed to strengthen resources for our children and families."
"CAASE supports federal efforts to reform our nation's child welfare response to minor victims of trafficking and believes this bill is an important step in the right direction," said Lynn Johnson, Policy Director at the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE). " Youth in foster care are particularly at risk of exploitation and are in desperate need of specialized services designed to meet their needs."
H.R. 4980 would prevent sex trafficking of foster children by documenting ongoing efforts to place foster children in permanent homes and implementing plans to rapidly locate a child missing from care; requiring states to develop new systems to identify at-risk children and ensure relevant data is provided to caseworkers; and encouraging states to involve children in developing their own case plans, encouraging personal responsibility and growth. Roskam, who serves on the Ways and Means Committee in which the bill was drafted is a cosponsor of The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act.
"Through work at both the federal and local level, we can continue to press forward in the fight against the scourge of human trafficking," said Roskam. "I am honored to have worked with CAASE and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office to raise awareness of this horrible crime in the Chicagoland area and appreciate their leadership and innovative approach to stamping out human trafficking. I am encouraged this bipartisan, common sense legislation is only one step away from being signed into law and making a real difference in the lives of foster care children."