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Image credit: chhs.ca.gov

Last week, CALCASA staff Adrienne Spires and Jeannette Page attended the California Child Welfare Council’s quarterly meeting in Sacramento. Established by law in 2006, the CWC’s purpose is to improve and streamline the components of the child welfare system throughout the state and, ultimately, create better outcomes for youth. The CWC consists of representatives from various state and county departments, along with advocates, service providers, parents and former foster youth. The council is currently focusing on issues like multi-system collaboration, support services for family reunification and youth transitioning out of the foster care system, in addition to a number of topical committees such as the Ending Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Action Team.
With the increased focus on ending sex trafficking in recent years, and the passage of several key pieces of state and federal legislation related to sexual exploitation of minors, counties throughout California have begun opting into the state Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) Program to build their capacity to respond to commercially sexually exploited youth. This often involves the creation of multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs) to respond to individual youth who have been identified as CSEC in order to divert them from the criminal justice system when possible, and to ensure youth receive holistic, supportive services. MDTs must have county child welfare, probation, mental health, public health, juvenile court and substance abuse agencies participating on the team, but can also include educators, law enforcement, attorneys, survivors, victim advocates, and others.
CALCASA believes rape crisis centers can play a key role in helping counties develop and implement MDTs to respond to CSEC. RCCs have championed coordinated multi-system responses for survivors over the decades. Many RCCs have been advocating for sexually exploited minors long before CSEC became a mainstream issue and our field’s focus on empowering survivors of sexual trauma is crucial to improving system responses to youth. To learn more, the CWC and CSEC Action Team meetings are open to the public and the next meeting is Wednesday, September 7, 2016.
Are you currently participating on your local county’s CSEC MDT? Share more about the role sexual assault advocates can play in responding to CSEC in the comments!