ENHANCING SERVICES FOR RUNAWAY AND HOMELESS VICTIMS OF YOUTH TRAFFICKING ACT OF 2014

July 23, 2014
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 5076, the Enhancing Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims of Youth Trafficking Act of 2014. I am honored to have joined my colleagues, Mr. Heck and Mr. Kline, and appreciate their leadership on this important issue.

Our bill makes an important change in the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act so that victims of trafficking can be better served. We know that trafficking and youth homelessness often affect similar populations. Young people that have run away or are homeless are particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation and trafficking, and programs targeted towards runaway and homeless youth should be simultaneously equipped to support victims of trafficking when there is such an overlap.

Research consistently confirms the correlation between running away and becoming exploited through prostitution. For example, according to a 2006 FBI Uniform Crime Report, girls who run away from their homes, group homes, foster homes, or treatment centers are at high risk of being targeted by a trafficker and becoming exploited.

Street Outreach Programs were created to provide services to ``runaway, homeless, and street youth who have been subjected to or are at risk of being subjected to sexual abuse.'' Every year, 25,000 of these young people find shelter as a result of these programs.

The legislation being considered today ensures that Street Outreach Programs can rely on funding already available through the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.

This allows the Department of Health and Human Services to provide street-based services such as individual assessments, treatment, counseling, or access to emergency shelter for runaway and homeless youth who are also victims of trafficking. Because of the overlap that often occurs with homelessness and trafficking, this just makes good sense.

Additionally, it is important that we provide the necessary resources to States, organizations, and other entities to train staff working with these victims. This additional training, authorized by this bill under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act research grants, will allow service providers to successfully address and respond to the behavioral and emotional effects of abuse and assault.

Our bill ensures that staff training will also include ways to recognize and respond to the unique needs and circumstances of trafficking victims. This is a simple change but an important one necessary to improve services available.

It is my hope that we can continue to work in this spirit of bipartisanship and work together to improve and strengthen programs that support our Nation's children, and I encourage all of my colleagues to support this legislation.