Governor Signs Two More Anti-Trafficking Bills and Other Late May News

Anti-Trafficking Outreach Coordinator hired to focus on Labor Trafficking in Iowa

Jessie Johnson has been hired as the Outreach Coordinator for the Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Service (TAPS) program with the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). A native Iowan, Jessie has extensive experience with victim-centered advocacy and processes. Prior to joining the USCRI, Jessie worked for a Minneapolis-based nonprofit serving survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and sex trafficking, and as a Migrant Farmer Advocate in southern Minnesota. Jessie is a qualified neutral and experienced restorative justice facilitator. She holds a J.D. and Certificate in Advocacy and Problem Solving from Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Minnesota and is fluent in Spanish.

In response to recent studies that reveal gaps in protection for foreign born human trafficking survivors, the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants’ Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Services (TAPS) program was created. TAPS will partner with state, regional, and local anti-trafficking coalitions to focus on gaps and barriers to service, including the under-identification of labor trafficking survivors. In collaboration with partners, TAPS will work to reach survivors of all forms of human trafficking with support that ensures their immediate security and well-being. The primary goals of the program include delivery of trauma-informed direct care services and capacity building activities, such as outreach and training. Direct services will begin at the end of 2019. Currently, Jessie is launching the TAPS capacity building activities. Jessie may be reached at jjohnson@uscrimail.org and phone 515-528-7525 x 2513.

Governor Reynolds Signs Two more Bills to Help Fight Human Trafficking in Iowa

The last Network blog post announced the great news that on May 8th Governor Kim Reynolds signed HF 731, the Mandatory Reporter Certification and Training Bill. This bill was the Iowa NAHT’s top 2019 legislative priority.

Since then, the governor has signed two more human trafficking related bills, both of which were supported by the Network. The two bills which will now become law are as follows:

  1. SF 267 makes it a serious misdemeanor for persons to engage in or imply the practice of massage therapy without a license. It also excludes sex trafficking victims from prosecution.
  2. HF 642 allows the Department of Human Services to share confidential information, including information related to child sex trafficking, with the Central Iowa Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Multidisciplinary Team outside of the 20 day child abuse assessment period. This team currently operates in Polk County and is the only DHS team which meets the legal requirements to receive confidential information outside of the 20 day assessment period. All other DHS teams with valid agreements are bound by Iowa Code chapter 235A and Iowa Administrative Code section 441-175.36.

Disturbing News on US Immigration System

According to newly collated data, over the past few decades the US government has approved thousands of requests by men to bring in child or adolescent brides to live in our country. The data shows that over the ten year period from 2007 to 2017, there were 5556 approvals from those seeking to bring minor spouses or fiancees and 2926 approvals by minors seeking to bring in older spouses. In nearly all cases, the girls were the younger person in the relationship. In 149 instances, the adult was older than 40, and in 28 cases the adult was over 50.

The data obtained by the Associated Press prompts scrutiny on whether the immigration system is enabling forced marriages, and whether American laws are exacerbating the problem despite attempts to curb child and forced marriages.

Human Trafficking Training for Health Care Workers

One of the Iowa NAHT priorities in 2019 is to promote training within the behavioral health and health care systems and transform their response to human trafficking. Through survivor voices, the NAHT knows that many individuals who are being trafficked interact with health care systems. A study, “Health Care and Human Trafficking: We Are Seeing the Unseen,” revealed that nearly 68 percent of survivors of sex and labor trafficking encountered a health care professional during the time they were trafficked — yet none were identified as a victim of trafficking during these encounters. This statistic underscores why it is important for behavioral health and health care systems to take the steps necessary to (1) provide training to all staff on how to identify, screen for, and respond to trafficking and (2) create system wide protocols.

Here in Iowa, you can request training from this highly recommended source, Teresa Davidson, ARNP, MSN, MA. Teresa can be reached by email at tdavidson@mercycare.org or by phone at (319) 369-4415.

Did you also know that the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Center (NHTTAC) offers a series of FREE accredited training modules available online in English and Spanish. Each module applies the SOAR framework to increase the capacity of health and behavioral health professionals to identify individuals who are at risk of trafficking or who have experienced trafficking and connect them with the resources they need. Register for these national training modules and then sign up for updates on the launch of six new modules later this year.

NHTTAC and the American Hospital Association’s Hospitals Against Violence hosted a webinar that provided key resources and information on how hospitals and health systems can combat human trafficking in their communities. Members of the health and behavioral communities learned about the new ICD-10 codes for trafficking and how organizations can prepare and create systems that can help end human trafficking. Check out the collaborative list of key resources and information and listen to the webinar to learn more about how your healthcare organization can get involved in the fight against trafficking! To access the NHTTAC and its training opportunities, go to their website at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/otip/training/nhttac.

How to Discuss Human Trafficking with Kids

Teaching kids about human trafficking can be challenging, especially for educators and parents who may not know how to approach the subject in a way that is age appropriate. Baylor University has given us permission to share the following guide: How to Talk about Human Trafficking with Children and Adolescents https://onlinegrad.baylor.edu/resources/conversations-human-trafficking-children-teens/.

Office on Trafficking in Persons’ Information Memo

Now available—the Office on Trafficking in Persons’ Information Memo on enhancing understanding of prevention principles to promote increased efforts in preventing all forms of human trafficking. The memo includes common definitions, terminology, and principles of violence prevention to inform the development and implementation of activities to prevent human trafficking. The memo also provides a framework for the development of national, state, tribal, and local collaborations to prevent human trafficking. Go to their website at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/otip/resource/imprevention to download the memo.

Additional Articles

https://whotv.com/2019/05/11/fashion-show-raises-money-to-support-local-survivors-of-sex-trafficking/

Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Summit

Five men charged in federal court with sex trafficking in Johnson County