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Chairman Reichert Announces Field Hearing on Efforts to Prevent and Address Child Sex Trafficking in Washington State
Council Chambers of the Auburn City Hall at 25 West Main Street in Auburn, Washington
Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Committee on Ways and Means, today announced that the Subcommittee will hold a hearing on Washington State’s efforts to prevent child sex trafficking and protect youth in foster care from becoming victims of this crime. The hearing will take place at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time on Wednesday, February 19, 2014, in the Council Chambers of the Auburn City Hall at 25 West Main Street in Auburn, Washington.
In view of the limited time available to hear from witnesses, oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only. Witnesses will include a law enforcement official, as well as representatives of organizations working to prevent child sex trafficking by reducing the vulnerability of youth in foster care. However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing.
In announcing the hearing, Chairman Reichert stated, “This hearing will provide Congress with direct input from people on the front lines, such as law enforcement, local nonprofits, former foster youth, and survivors themselves, who are working to protect youth in foster care from sex traffickers. Their perspectives are critical and will inform our efforts to pass national legislation to do just that, ensuring more young people can grow up to lead healthy, successful lives.”
Recognized as one of the first states to pass laws criminalizing human trafficking, Washington has been a leader in preventing and addressing child sex trafficking. For example, Shared Hope International, a group focused on preventing sex trafficking around the world, recently recognized the work of Washington in both prosecuting those who traffic children for sex and in protecting victims of this crime, giving the State an “A” grade for its work. In addition, a variety of State and local stakeholders have worked together to develop a statewide Model Protocol for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children. This protocol will help law enforcement, the courts, victim advocacy organizations, youth service agencies, and other first responders in better identifying child sex trafficking as well as the risks that make children vulnerable to this crime.
Reports suggest that children in the child welfare system are at heightened risk for being victims of sex trafficking. In 2010, officials in Los Angeles, California reported that 59 percent of juveniles arrested for prostitution were in the foster care system. Of children reported missing to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who are also likely child sex trafficking victims, 60 percent were in foster care or group homes when they ran away. Research shows the majority of sex trafficked youth experienced sexual abuse growing up, and that victims of sexual abuse are 28 times more likely to be involved in prostitution than children who have not suffered such abuse. As improvements in the child welfare system aimed at preventing childhood sexual abuse are considered, it is critical that child welfare agencies be equipped to do more to prevent and address the consequences of this crime, especially when youth in foster care are involved.
FOCUS OF THE HEARING:
This hearing will highlight efforts by groups in the State of Washington to end child sex trafficking, prevent youth in foster care from becoming victims of this crime, and empower youth in foster care so they can achieve success.
DETAILS FOR SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN COMMENTS:
Please Note: Any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit for the hearing record must follow the appropriate link on the hearing page of the Committee website and complete the informational forms. From the Committee homepage, http://waysandmeans.house.gov, select “Hearings.” Select the hearing for which you would like to submit, and click on the link entitled, “Please click here to submit a statement or letter for the record.” Once you have followed the online instructions, submit all requested information. Attach your submission as a Word document, in compliance with the formatting requirements listed below, by March 5, 2014. Finally, please note that due to the change in House mail policy, the U.S. Capitol Police will refuse sealed-package deliveries to all House Office Buildings. For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-1721 or (202) 225-3625.
The Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record. As always, submissions will be included in the record according to the discretion of the Committee. The Committee will not alter the content of your submission, but we reserve the right to format it according to our guidelines. Any submission provided to the Committee by a witness, any supplementary materials submitted for the printed record, and any written comments in response to a request for written comments must conform to the guidelines listed below. Any submission or supplementary item not in compliance with these guidelines will not be printed, but will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
The Committee seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202-225-1721 or 202-226-3411 TTD/TTY in advance of the event (four business days notice is requested). Questions with regard to special accommodation needs in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats) may be directed to the Committee as noted above.
Note: All Committee advisories and news releases are available online at http://www.waysandmeans.house.gov/.