WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced legislation, Improving Outcomes for Youth at Risk for Sex Trafficking, IO YOUTH, that will help combat domestic youth sex trafficking in the United States.
“There is an epidemic of abuse that is taking place in America today. Some estimates have found hundreds of thousands of children and youth are at risk of domestic sex trafficking. Making matters worse, up to 60 percent of sexually exploited children are recruited out of our nation’s child welfare and foster care systems,” Hatch said. “We owe these young people better than this. This legislation I am introducing today addresses some of the endemic and wide spread conditions in the child welfare and foster care systems that make children and youth particularly vulnerable to being sexually trafficked. It doesn’t add a penny to our debt and, most importantly, helps protect our children from the most vile kind of abuse and victimization.”
This legislation requires states to show that they have policies in place to identify youth who are believed to be at risk of being trafficked. Specifically, the measure empowers youth in foster care, providing them with more control over decisions affecting their lives and promotes policies to recruit and train quality foster parents. Furthermore, the legislation redirects funds from the Social Services Block Grant program to provide states with resources to keep children safely at home, improve the court system, support adoption and to provide housing to trafficked and other vulnerable youth.
“We live in contentious times. There are fierce policy and partisan divides on many critical issues, but the domestic sex trafficking of children and youth from foster care is not one of them,” Hatch said. “If there is any issue under the sun that is without controversy, it’s this one. I hope my colleagues will join me in backing this legislation.”
Earlier this year, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing examining the issue of domestic sex trafficking and problems confronting America’s child welfare and foster care systems..
This legislation has earned the support of the National Children’s Alliance, Foster Club, Children’s Home Society of America, the National Network for Youth, the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare, Covenant House International, the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Rights 4 Girls and the Children’s Village.
On Wednesday, Hatch delivered remarks on the Senate floor regarding the legislation. Key remarks from and a full copy of his speech can be found here.
Submitted by: The Office of Sen. Orrin Hatch