Survey of Youth Currently and Formerly in Foster Care at Risk for Human Trafficking: Final Report


Human trafficking of youth is defined as the exploitation of minors for forced labor or commercial sex and is increasingly recognized as a public health and social justice concern. In recent years, federal lawmakers have highlighted the importance of child welfare to a comprehensive systems-level response to human trafficking with child welfare as a key player. In particular, several federal policies have defined the child welfare system’s crucial role in identifying and responding to human trafficking involving children and youth.  To be effective, the child welfare system must better understand the scope, risks, and context of human trafficking among youth in their care. Although prior research has established the association of human trafficking with child maltreatment and foster care, little is known about what differentiates youth currently and formerly in foster care who experience human trafficking and the context surrounding those experiences.

In an effort to fill these knowledge gaps, the Survey of Youth Transitioning from Foster Care (SYTFC) collected information from youth currently and formerly in foster care in two states who were at risk for human trafficking experiences based on their demographic characteristics, maltreatment allegations, and removal and placement history. When possible, youth self-report of trafficking experiences was combined with trafficking allegations in the child welfare administrative data provided by states to support a comprehensive accounting of potential trafficking experiences.

The SYTFC was conducted by RTI International through a contract from OPRE, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in collaboration with ACF’s Children’s Bureau. The SYTFC was implemented as part of part of the Domestic Human Trafficking and the Child Welfare Population project.

Download the report.

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