Modern-day abolitionists founded the Iowa Network 15 years ago

katie-kykerThe Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking and Slavery marks its 15th anniversary since it was founded on June 23, 2005. The Network was Iowa’s first and remains the only statewide nonprofit all-volunteer organization devoted exclusively to ending trafficking in all its forms. Our mission is to coordinate Iowa’s solution to end human trafficking and slavery through coalition building, raising awareness, promoting education, and legislative advocacy.

The photo is of board member Katie Kyker holding up a NAHT 15th anniversary support poster. On it, she wrote, “I support the Network because… I want my children to grow up in a community without human trafficking!” In the next few weeks, the Network will be asking its supporters to donate and fill out this poster and complete the sentence, “I support the Network because…” Be looking for this on our Facebook page and a future blog post. Between now and June 23, when you donate on our website, you will be sent an NAHT support poster by email. Fill out why you support the Network, snap a photo with your poster, and send it to us for a chance to be featured in our next blog post or on our Facebook page!

Your Help Needed to Pass Iowa Hotel/Motel Anti-Trafficking Legislation

The Iowa Legislature will reconvene into session on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. Maggie Tinsman and Jonathan Causey, co-chairs of the NAHT Legislative Advocacy Committee, are asking all anti-trafficking advocates to call or email the legislators linked below.

The Hotel/Motel Bill which passed unanimously in the Iowa House, must be passed by the Senate in order to be signed into law by Governor Reynolds. The Bill is in the State Government Committee, chaired by Senator Roby Smith. He has assigned this bill to the Senate Sub-Committee, chaired by Senator Chris Cournoyer.

Both Senators Smith and Cournoyer are “for” the Bill, and the NAHT believes that it is a high priority. It must get through Sub-Committee and be voted out of the State Government as soon as possible so that the full Senate can approve it. The Senate will be working mainly on budget bills, but Senator Smith believes that HF2259 is a high priority. We are asking you to contact the following Senators on June 3 or shortly before or after this date. We are asking you to contact the following Senators on June 3 or shortly before or after this date. Click here for a list of contact information of Senators to contact about this bill (PDF).

This bill provides incentive for all Iowa hotels/motels to provide training on how to detect and report human trafficking to all of their employees. Once the training is complete, the hotel/motel will get an official document from the Department of Public Safety’s Office to Combat Human Trafficking to frame and hang in their lobby. Public entities can NOT use public funds for lodging, services, conference/banquet spaces, etc. at any hotels that do not have a completion of training certificate. Your tax dollars will not be used to support hotels that don’t take the time to train their employees to detect and report human trafficking. Well over half of all sex trafficking takes place in hotels and motels.

Iowa DHS Data on Child Sex Trafficking

At a recent NAHT board meeting, board member Roxanne Riesberg shared the table below. As you can see, the Child Sex Trafficking abuse category has been on the rise. While there were reports of suspected abuse that included allegations of Child Sex Trafficking in 2016 and 2017, there were no substantiated cases. In 2018, there were seven Child Sex Trafficking cases substantiated in five counties. In 2019, twelve cases were substantiated in eight counties.

As a result of Public Law 113-183, the “Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014” and Public Law 114-22, the “Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015”, Child Sex Trafficking was added as a category of child abuse to Iowa law, effective July 1, 2016. This category of child abuse was the first category to forego the requirement that the person responsible for child abuse had to be a caretaker. The law directs that any person involved in the commercial sexual exploitation of a child, commits child abuse.

Calendar Year Total of Child Sex
Trafficking Substantiated
County Child Sex
Trafficking Substantiated
2016 0 0
2017 0 0
2018 7 Dubuque – 1
Jefferson – 1
Polk – 2
Scott – 2
Woodbury – 1
2019 12 Boone – 2
Cass – 1
Dubuque – 1
Johnson – 3
Jones – 1
Linn – 1
Pottawattamie – 1
Woodbury -2

Roxanne Riesberg also stated that “We certainly know that Child Sex Trafficking is occurring with children at a much higher frequency than the child abuse data shows. As Iowans become more educated about human trafficking and know what red flags they may be looking for in their work with children, we can expect to see the child abuse data continue to rise.” Roxanne also works at DHS as the Child Protection Policy Program Manager.

Invitation to join the Emancipation Nation Network

There is a new international organization you can join for free called Emancipation Nation Network. This network is filled with training opportunities, best practice standards, and other important information for those working directly with survivors. This new network was established by survivors themselves. For more details about this service provider network and how you can join, click here (PDF).

Progress Report from Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Services

Through the Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Services (TAPS) program, the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants Des Moines field office participates in both capacity building activities and direct services to reach survivors of human trafficking with support that promotes their immediate safety and well-being. Their primary goals include conducting training and public awareness events, delivering direct services via survivor-centered case management, and evaluating community needs and impact via action research.

TAPS staff are available to conduct trainings by request across the state of Iowa. Because several partnering agencies do well to discuss the dynamics of sex trafficking, the TAPS program seeks to provide education and awareness specifically around labor trafficking. To date, TAPS has trained law enforcement, social service providers, and university students.

While TAPS capacity building activities primarily focus on the dynamics of labor trafficking, TAPS case management services are available for any survivor of human trafficking, regardless of age, gender, or immigration status. Case management activities are bound to a 100-mile service area radius of the Des Moines metro, however if an individual falls outside that service area, TAPS staff are happy to consult and co-advocate with other advocates and agencies. Currently the TAPS program has one case manager, and they are in the process of applying for federal grant monies that would allow for additional staff.

If you would like to be in touch with the TAPS program, please contact TAPS Program Coordinator, Jess Johnson, at

Information and Articles

  1. A well-designed infographic was developed by Hannah Fultz, a student at Iowa State who has given us permission to share it with our subscribers. This is something that you could post on your social media or print off as a poster (PDF).
  2. BLIND EYES OPENED is a first-of-a-kind Christian documentary that dives deep into the sex trafficking industry in the U.S. The film exposes the darkness that fuels demand, highlights survivors’ transformations through Christ, engages lawmakers, law enforcement, organizations, ministries and experts across the country committed to ending sex trafficking. Click here to watch now on Amazon Prime!
  3. How Free the Children fights child labor – Craig Kielburger first learned about forced child labor when he was 12. Determined to make a difference, he started his own charity. More than 20 years later, it is one of the best known in Canada. Link here.
  4. A21 hosts a conversation about coronavirus and online child sexual exploitation and how to keep young people safe online – Link here.