El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) is working with the community
and County partners to support local outreach and education efforts to combat human
trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). Human
trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where victims are controlled or
forced to perform labor, are sexually exploited or both. A taskforce focused on
the problem of human trafficking was formed in El Dorado County in 2014.
“It’s easy to assume that human
trafficking only happens in large, urban and economically challenged
communities,” said Leslie Griffith, Deputy Director of El Dorado County Child
Protective Services. ”But the reality is that human trafficking can happen
anywhere, even in a smaller, rural county like El Dorado, and it can happen to
people from any socioeconomic background.”
According to Griffith, the human
trafficking cases in El Dorado County over the past few years involved youth
who were actively trafficked or were at high risk of trafficking. Some of the victims
were youth with multiple life challenges such as poverty, homelessness, or were
victims of domestic violence, sexual or physical abuse. Some were foster
children or dependents of the court. Some victims came from affluent and/or
well-functioning homes. One case involved a child lured into human trafficking
online. These cases may involve child victims fleeing abuse at home only to be
re-victimized on the street by those seeking to exploit vulnerable youth.
"It’s important that we recognize
these children as victims of a crime and strive to get them the help they need,”
said Griffith. “The best way to combat human trafficking is education, awareness
and early intervention.”
The El Dorado County Foster Youth and
Human Trafficking Taskforce strives to collaboratively address human
trafficking. Members of the taskforce include the following El Dorado County
organizations: Child Abuse Prevention Council, Child Protective Services, Court
Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), County Office of Education, District
Attorney’s Office, Mental Health, Placerville Police Department, Probation Department, Public
Defender’s Office, Public Health, Sheriff’s Office, and South Lake Tahoe Police
Department. Other local partners working to raise awareness about human
trafficking include BreakFree/3 Strands, Partners Against Trafficking of Humans
(PATH), and Summitview Child and Family Services.
HHSA is working with local partners
over the coming year to support outreach and education efforts on human
trafficking. One specific effort involves education to local businesses. California
Senate Bill 1193, passed in 2012, requires certain businesses to post public notices
informing the public and victims of human trafficking of telephone hotlines
where they can seek help or report unlawful activity. HHSA is working with
chambers of commerce, county and city staff to get the word out to businesses.
Businesses and establishments
required to post the public notice under SB 1193 include airports, rail
stations, truck stops, rest stop areas, emergency rooms in acute care
hospitals, urgent care centers, farm labor contractors, privately operated job
recruitment centers, adult or sexually oriented businesses, businesses that
offer massage, and businesses licensed for the onsite sale of alcohol.
A new El Dorado County website has been
created with information about human trafficking, including links to partner
agencies, and signs to help identify if someone may be a victim of human
trafficking. The website also has a page for businesses about SB 1193, with an
easy-to-download public notice. The website is http://www.edcgov.us/stophumantrafficking/.
HHSA’s outreach activities with agency partners are possible due to funding
through the California Department of Social Services.
# # #