Administration for Children and Families (ACF) FY 2016
HHS/Administration for Children and Families
THE NEED FOR FUNDING AND REPORT LANGUAGE:
$32,000,000 for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to implement the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (P.L.113-4), as follows: $16,000,000 to serve foreign national victims; and $16,000,000 to provide grants to non-governmental organizations working in communities around the country providing case management programs for U.S. citizens and legal permanent resident victims of severe forms of trafficking.
Summary of Program
ACF is a division within HHS that promotes the economic and social well-being of families, children, and individuals and communities. (See ACF Homepage, acf.hhs.gov.) That extends to ACF’s commitment to ensuring that victims of all forms of human trafficking, including adults and children, foreign nationals and U.S. citizens/LPRs, and victims of sex and labor trafficking, have access to the support they need. For example, ORR assists32 refugees who have been persecuted due to race, religion, nationality, social association, or political opinion. Refugees receive assistance with resettlement and integration into the United States.33
For trafficking victims, ORR has numerous partner organizations that assist the victims in receiving support services such as access to shelter, job training, and emergency services.34 In addition, the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) supports programs that serve runway and homeless youth, who are among the most vulnerable to sex and labor trafficking in the Untied States.
The following chart shows the increasing number of victims identified in need of case management and legal services.
Thus, an increased number of identified victims has translated to shorter periods of service time for survivors of this crime and denial of services for some. To accommodate the increase in the number of victims without a corresponding increase in funding, service providers have reduced the amount of time they can provide services and, in some cases, have denied assistance. In fact, service periods for certified victims have been reduced from up to 17 months to a maximum of just 3 or 4 months, which is an inadequate amount of time to fully address the needs of most survivors, many of whom may have been forced to work for years. Service providers have also reported denial of services for some identified victims at the end of the fiscal year, as no funds remained available. These grants currently fund access to such basic necessities as shelter, medical care, and comprehensive case management, which are crucial to providing victims, particularly children, the necessary support to begin the long path to recovery and self-sufficiency.
For example, ORR’s Division of Refugee Assistance assists refugees with the following:
- Providing services to refugees to help them become employed and economically self-sufficient;35
- Managing the unaccompanied minors program to ensure that refugee and entrant unaccompanied minors are provided appropriate care and services;36
- Ensuring the quality of medical screening and initial medical treatment of refugees;37 and
- Assisting public and private agencies on data reporting and the resolution of reporting problems.38
The funds requested for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will make significant strides toward serving victims of trafficking and fulfilling the mandate of distinct sections of the TVPRA:
- To identify and serve foreign national victims (Sec. 301(2)); and
- To create specialized case management programs to assist U.S. citizens (Sec. 213).
Funding for these programs did not increase for over 10 years despite a 210% increase in the number of victims identified as in need of comprehensive services. Funding remains insufficient to meet victims’ needs, despite the growing demand for case management programs for U.S. citizens and shelter services for minor victims and despite Congress’s direction in the FY 2010 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill that the Administration request funding for such programs. Additionally the U.S. Department of State annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, when ranking the United States on its ability to combat human trafficking, has consistently reported the need for increased funds for services for victims.39
The timeframe needed for each victim to recover varies case to case. During this time, the survivor’s case manager and attorney are often the focal point for the survivor’s access to continuous care. When survivors first leave their trafficking situation, case managers and attorneys work with them to stabilize their basic needs and navigate the complex legal system. These services include accessing shelter, medical care, life skills training, and job placement, as well supporting them through the process when working with law enforcement and testifying against their trafficker.
Under the current program, there are time constraints on funding, and no individualized assessment of need is available for survivors. Often, this arbitrary deadline cuts off essential support needed for survivors to achieve stability. Additionally, funding for case management services for foreign national victims should continue post certification, as referring survivors to local refugee resettlement programs does not provide the continuity of care needed for such complex cases. To ensure the stability of the survivor, funding for legal services is as critical as providing ongoing case management services. Human trafficking survivors have some of the most complex legal cases spanning all court systems – immigration, criminal and civil. In order to ensure that survivors successfully prosecute their traffickers, receive appropriate immigration remedies and have the option to seek restitution, funding should be available for ongoing legal counsel who have the knowledge to successfully guide survivors through these various systems.
There is a need for additional funding and programs dedicated specifically to not only serving victims but also aiding collaborative efforts between agencies serving trafficked populations. Professionals such as teachers, doctors, and police officers should be trained on how to identify and assist trafficking victims they may encounter. Funding is also needed to evaluate the efficacy of methods utilized in serving trafficking victims.
Assistance to Foreign National Victims
Since the passage of the TVPA in 2000, certified foreign national survivors have received medical and psychological treatment, housing, access to educational programs, life skills development, and other assistance through HHS-funded NGO programs. This program has also funded public awareness, training, and coalition building to raise awareness about human trafficking among law enforcement, social services, medical staff and other potential first responders, in addition to other faith-based and community groups. These grants are crucial to providing victims, including children, the comprehensive aid and services once they have been identified as a victim of human trafficking.
In 2012, ORR certified 564 victims of human trafficking, an increase from the 99 certifications ORR issued to trafficking victims in 2002. Yet, funding for these programs did not increase for over 10 years and remains insufficient to meet victims’ needs, despite the 569% increase in the number of victims identified and certified as in need of comprehensive trauma-informed, gender specific services.
As the above example shows the U.S. Government is failing to support services for the victims that are currently being identified, but identification will only increase as public awareness around this issue mounts. While the prevalence of human trafficking is difficult to determine, there are some indicators of the scope of the problem. For example, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center has identified 19,724 potential human trafficking victims since 2007. Yet, HHS and its grantees have been able to serve less than 800 survivors annually. Service providers also report that twice as many foreign national victims as expected have enrolled in FY 2012. Each year since the passage of TVPA, HHS funding has had to serve an increasing number of survivors with the same resources. For example in FY 2011, the federal government issued 463 certifications to foreign adults and 101 eligibility letters to foreign children, an increase from 449 for adults and 92 for children in FY 2010 and an increase from 330 adults and 50 children in FY 2009. This represents a 40% increase in adult victims and a 102% increase in child victims in the previous two fiscal years. Since HHS has needed to serve increasing numbers of victims with the same level of funding, service periods for some clients are only as long as four months. This short service period challenges a survivor’s ability to recover and to participate in criminal prosecutions, which can often last as long as two years.
Assistance to U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents
U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who are victims of trafficking need specialized services. In particular, survivors who have been long-term victims of abuse and trauma, often since childhood, are in need of comprehensive case management services in order to access specific recovery programs for which they may be eligible. Furthermore, existing systems often struggle with addressing the specialized needs of trafficking victims. The child welfare system is a particularly shocking example of systems failing to adequately prevent or address human trafficking. Some studies estimate that as many as 80% of identified child trafficking victims had previous contact with the child welfare system. These studies demonstrate the vulnerability of children within the child welfare system as well as the role of the child welfare system in addressing human trafficking. Similar to the assistance provided for foreign national victims, recovery programs for U.S. citizens include medical and psychological treatment, housing, access to educational programs, life skills development, and other assistance through HHS-funded NGO programs. In 2014, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline identified 1,465 child trafficking cases: 1,322 cases of child sex trafficking cases (involving at least one minor) and 143 cases of child labor trafficking (involving at least one minor). The NHTRC hotline also found that of the sex trafficking cases it identified, 43.8% involved U.S. citizen victims (127 cases), and of the labor trafficking cases it identified, 15.5% involved U.S. citizen victims (1,577 cases).
Yet, funding for services for this population remains woefully low. In FY13 $0 was enacted for domestic victims, in FY14 $1,750,000 was enacted, and in FY15 $2,750,000 was enacted, all well short of the authorized $10,000,000. The request for $16,000,000 in funding reflects the need to appropriately address the needs of this population. These funds are necessary to fill the gap in services for domestic victims. These funds may also support public awareness, training, and coalition building to raise awareness about human trafficking among law enforcement, social services, medical staff and other potential first responders, in addition to other faith-based and community groups.
ATEST requests $32,000,000 for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to implement the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (P.L.113-4), as follows: $16,000,000 to serve foreign national victims and $16,000,000 to provide grants to non-governmental organizations working in communities around the country providing case management programs for U.S. citizens and legal permanent resident victims of severe forms of trafficking. These grants are crucial to providing victims, particularly children, the necessary aid and services once they have been identified as a victim of trafficking.
We support the request included in the President’s FY16 request, which recommended $15,000,000 to provide comprehensive services to youth in the child welfare system who are victims or at-risk of human trafficking, including an evaluation component to help build a research base of effective interventions for this population. We recommend that the Committee include these additional funds so as to address the unmet needs of this vulnerable population.
We are seeking the inclusion of the following paragraph in the report accompanying the FY16 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill.
Proposed Report Language
Within the funds provided under this heading, the Committee recommends $32,000,000 for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to implement the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (P.L.113-4), as follows: $16,000,000 to serve foreign national victims and $16,000,000 to provide grants to non-governmental organizations working in communities around the country providing victim service programs for U.S. citizens and legal permanent resident victims of severe forms of trafficking.