Lawmakers look to aid victims of human trafficking

By News Service of Florida

A series of proposed changes in the way the state handles human-trafficking and sexual-exploitation cases involving minors received unanimous approval Monday from the House Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee.

Under the legislation (HB 1383), the Department of Children and Families would expand the assignment of caseworkers --- called multi-disciplinary staffing --- to all victims of "commercial sexual exploitation" under the age of 18.

It also would require DCF to offer service plans including information on shelter facilities, counseling and treatment services, and employment training.

The measure also would require follow-up visits from DCF or the local sheriff's office within six months of a plan's issuance to determine whether services have been received.

Bill sponsor Jeanette Nunez, R-Miami, said the bill comes after a July report that recommended changes in response to an increase in the level of verified and alleged cases of trafficking.

The report was done by the state Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, or OPPAGA.

Nunez said the measure's enhanced reporting requirements would provide better data for the state to monitor the prevalence of commercial sexual exploitation.

News Service of Florida