The commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) is an issue receiving much attention nationally and throughout the state. In 2014 legislation was passed to include CSEC children as meeting the qualifications for abuse and neglect under California’s Welfare and Institutions Code. This was an important first step by State leaders to address the cause and circumstance of CSEC, and this new legislation permits child welfare agencies to better serve this at risk population. In El Dorado County the Foster Youth and Human Trafficking (FYHT) Task Force has been serving the CSEC population since 2013 and operates under an MOU ratified by the County’s Board of Supervisors. This multidisciplinary team has had the privilege to serve over 30 CSEC youth in El Dorado County, and the California Department of Social Services has identified the FYHT Task Force as a model for a victim focused program for serving CSEC youth.
This multi-agency task force has representatives from the El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency, Office of Education, District Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, County Counsel, Placerville Police Department, South Lake Tahoe Police Department, and Youth Advocates of El Dorado County. The task force works closely with Marshall Medical and Barton Memorial Hospital and is supported by dedicated youth services provider agencies on the west slope and in South Lake Tahoe.
CSEC youth require intensive intervention and prevention services and task force members are dedicated in their task to serve this very vulnerable youth population. The focus of the task force and its sponsoring agencies is to greatly reduce or eliminate the sexual exploitation and domestic minor sex trafficking of youth in El Dorado County and to improve outcomes for identified CSEC victims. CSEC victims have often experienced trauma and abuse at a level most people would find difficult to even comprehend, and CSEC victims require intensive therapeutic services that can include out-of-state residential programs. A measure of success for the task force is the reintegration of CSEC youth back into their communities when the youth is ready to transition from a residential program. To date, three youth have successfully made this transition back into our communities, and their futures are bright, promising, and worlds away from the trauma they have experienced and survived. CSEC youth are El Dorado County youth, and their futures will continue to be directly linked to the support and services provided by dedicated community leaders, treatment providers, youth advocates, and workers in County social service programs.