CALCASA Attends CA Child Welfare Council’s CSEC Action Team Meeting

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Image credit: chhs.ca.gov

Last week, CALCASA staff Adrienne Spires and Jeannette Page attended the California Child Welfare Council’s quarterly meeting in Sacramento. Established by law in 2006, the CWC’s purpose is to improve and streamline the components of the child welfare system throughout the state and, ultimately, create better outcomes for youth. The CWC consists of representatives from various state and county departments, along with advocates, service providers, parents and former foster youth. The council is currently focusing on issues like multi-system collaboration, support services for family reunification and youth transitioning out of the foster care system, in addition to a number of topical committees such as the Ending Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Action Team.

With the increased focus on ending sex trafficking in recent years, and the passage of several key pieces of state and federal legislation related to sexual exploitation of minors, counties throughout California have begun opting into the state Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) Program to build their capacity to respond to commercially sexually exploited youth. This often involves the creation of multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs) to respond to individual youth who have been identified as CSEC in order to divert them from the criminal justice system when possible, and to ensure youth receive holistic, supportive services. MDTs must have county child welfare, probation, mental health, public health, juvenile court and substance abuse agencies participating on the team, but can also include educators, law enforcement, attorneys, survivors, victim advocates, and others.

CALCASA believes rape crisis centers can play a key role in helping counties develop and implement MDTs to respond to CSEC. RCCs have championed coordinated multi-system responses for survivors over the decades. Many RCCs have been advocating for sexually exploited minors long before CSEC became a mainstream issue and our field’s focus on empowering survivors of sexual trauma is crucial to improving system responses to youth. To learn more, the CWC and CSEC Action Team meetings are open to the public and the next meeting is Wednesday, September 7, 2016.

Are you currently participating on your local county’s CSEC MDT? Share more about the role sexual assault advocates can play in responding to CSEC in the comments!

Jeannette Page

Jeannette provides training and technical assistance on crisis intervention and advocacy for CALCASA’s members. She started in the movement as a hotline volunteer in 2007, and since 2009 has worked in direct service and administration for community-based rape crisis centers in California. She enjoys coming up with ideas for solutions to the problems our field faces.

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  • Lauren DaSilva June 10, 2016, 10:00 AM

    The Monterey County Rape Crisis Center (MCRCC), and partner RCCs – Community Solutions and Monarch Services, was deeply involved in the development of a tri-county CSEC protocol campioned by Child Welfare in Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Bentio Counties. Within the protocol the role of the CSEC Advocate is defined as a Sexual Assault Counselor employed by an OES funded RCC. The collaboration has been great and, as a result, CSEC survivors have access to an advocate right away and throughout their involvement with Child Welfare and beyond.

    • Jeannette Page June 10, 2016, 12:52 PM Jeannette Page

      Thanks for sharing, Lauren! That’s a fantastic example of how RCCs can work with each other and county agencies to coordinate responses for CSEC survivors without duplicating services in the community. Specifying that CSEC advocates are sexual assault counselors as defined under CA law is a smart strategy that other RCCs could possibly utilize.

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