In September, Congress passed the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (H.R. 4980), one of the most significant pieces of domestic legislation passed by this Congress and a great child welfare victory.
Nebraska’s U.S. Senators and Representatives all voted in support of this legislation (Rep. Adrian Smith was also a co-sponsor of H.R. 4980). This bipartisan success shows commitment to ensuring youth in foster care, guardianships, and those awaiting adoption can have safe and happy childhoods. The bill requires state child welfare agencies to screen, document, and assist children who are at-risk for being trafficked or are survivors of sex trafficking. The Act also contains other important provisions, including the reauthorization of adoption incentives with improvements to promote guardianship and the extension of funding for Family Connection Grants.
Nebraska Appleseed is particularly interested in the provisions of H.R. 4980 related to human trafficking. Unfortunately, a disproportionate number of youth in foster care have become victims of human trafficking. And we have recently started looking into the trafficking of youth in care.
In the coming months, it will be important for states to implement this federal law in a manner that maximizes its impact for at-risk children and youth in the foster care system. Appleseed will be monitoring how H.R. 4980 is implemented in Nebraska and working to make the most of it for children and youth in our state.