Fellow: Sarah Johnston
Grant Year: 2019
Location: California, United States
Organization: Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission – Central Valley Against Human Trafficking
Project Title: State of California Human Trafficking Advisory Board
Project Summary: The U.S. Department of State estimates that 14,500-20,000 people are trafficked into the United States each year, which does not include victims who are trafficked within the country. California is one of the nation’s top four destination states for trafficked human beings. In 2016, the State of California passed Assembly Bill (AB) 1735 which states human trafficking caseworkers are entitled to privilege of confidentiality with clients, ensuring that survivors can seek assistance from skilled professionals and service providers without fear of retribution or further abuse from their exploiters. For survivors to qualify for this privilege, AB 1735 requires them to meet specific criteria; however, there is little to no oversight for those claiming this caseworker privilege. This results in the systematic re-traumatization and victimization of survivors, as they are not properly protected or supported, which stems from a lack of uniform training and oversight of best practices across human trafficking direct service providers. Victims on average enter up to five different programs before sticking with one and often will be withdrawn from programs due to a lack of knowledge of the survivor’s needs, safety, and trauma-informed practices. To improve the protections and support for human trafficked survivors, the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission aims to introduce legislation in the California State Assembly for the creation of an advisory board to provide oversight to all 75-100 human trafficking direct service providers to ensure proper implementation of AB 1735 – Section 1038.2(c)(1). This new legislation will maintain continuity of trauma-informed services for thousands of survivors of human trafficking across California.